Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stinkin' Robocalls

FCC adopts new rules against 'robocalls'

NEW YORK (AP) — The federal government is cracking down on "robocalls," those automated phone calls with the tendency to interrupt Sunday dinners and otherwise annoy consumers.

The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that it will now require telemarketers to obtain written consent from people before placing a robocall. Written does not mean handwritten, though — electronic forms are OK.

The new rules also eliminate a loophole that allowed telemarketers to place robocalls if they had an "established business relationship" with the consumer. Now, they will have to obtain consent even if they had previously done business with the person they want to call.

Telemarketers will also have to provide an automated way for people to revoke their consent to the robocall by pressing a few keys on their phone during the call. If this happens, the new rules require telemarketer to add the person to the company's do not call list.

The FCC said it is not changing rules that apply to informational robocalls, such as airline flight updates, school notifications or warnings about suspicious bank account activity.

The FCC and the Federal Trade Commission already had rules aimed at preventing unwanted marketing calls. But the FCC said despite this, "too many telemarketers, aided by autodialers and prerecorded messages, have continued to call consumers who don't want to hear from them."

Well, perhaps. Yeah, it's nice of the FCC to pass another law (I can't believe I just wrote that), but it seems like there is no effective way to enforce the current "National Do Not Call Registry" in the first place. Once in a while, we hear of a telemarketer being fined, but they're never put out of business nor any other sort of punitive action taken. I'm sure this venture will be equally successful.

One reason I'm convinced being harassed by telemarketers never stops is that phone companies make money allowing this. I'm not sure how they could stop illegal usage of the phone lines, or even if that's a can of worms worth opening as far as unintended consequences go (do we really want Ma Bell listening in on our conversations for illegal activity?). But as long as Ma Bell and all her siblings are sleeping with the enemy, we're gonna have telemarketers who don't follow the rules.


KurtP said...

I didn't notice anything in there about political hacks making unwanted calls...

threecollie said...

If you can get a number off your caller ID you can report them to the FTC. I am sure they do nothing at all about them, but it is very satisfying.