- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are partnering in “Operation Stop Scam Calls,” a multijurisdictional effort to stop illegal telemarketing calls.
- Recent actions by the FCC expand robocall prevention efforts and step up enforcement of its rules.
- Additionally, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks to clarify consumer consent requirements for receiving robocalls and text messages.
With an estimated four billion robocalls per month, it’s not surprising that unwanted and illegal robocalls are the FCC’s top consumer-protection priority, generating about 119,000 complaints in 2022 alone. Unwanted and illegal text messages—estimated at 225 billion in 2022—are increasingly prevalent and uniquely harmful to consumers by including legitimate-looking links designed to fool the recipient into providing personal and financial information. All of us experience on a daily basis the awkwardness of receiving a phone call or text message from an unknown telephone number and deciding whether to answer or reply. Unfortunately, some of these calls and texts are from bad actors and will result in fraud costing consumers billions of dollars.
Recent actions by the FCC are designed to decrease the number of unwanted and illegal phone calls and text messages that reach you. Below is a summary of recent developments in robocall and robotext regulation and open FCC proceedings that seek to eliminate harmful calls and texts. The FCC’s authority to regulate robocalls and robotexts stems from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), enacted in 1991, the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, enacted in 2010, and the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act), enacted in 2019. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), through its authority under the Federal Trade Commission Act and Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, also plays a role in robocall reduction and enforcement. The FTC administers the National Do Not Call Registry and has brought more than 150 enforcement actions for “Do Not Call,” robocall and spoofed caller ID violations. The FTC and FCC are partners in “Operation Stop Scam Calls”—a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional effort by federal and state law enforcement entities to stop illegal telemarketing calls.
As part of its most recent robocall prevention efforts, the FCC has acted to, among other things:
- Require intermediate voice service providers to authenticate calls that are not authenticated by originating voice service providers;
- Require all voice service providers to take reasonable steps to mitigate illegal robocalls and file their mitigation plans in the Robocall Mitigation Database by a to-be-announced date ;
- Give its Enforcement Bureau enhanced tools to penalize bad actors, including the ability to revoke section 214 and other authorizations, licenses and certifications of repeat offenders and expel providers that commit certain rule violations from the Robocall Mitigation Database on an expedited timeline;
- Adopt a maximum $23,727 per-call penalty for failure to block illegal calls;
- Established STIR/SHAKEN obligations of satellite providers (STIR/SHAKEN is a framework adopted by the FCC and implemented by voice service providers to authenticate an originating caller’s right to use the telephone number displayed on caller ID and is meant to protect against spoofed robocalls);
- Expand to all voice service providers its requirements to respond to call traceback requests within 24 hours and block illegal traffic when notified by the FCC; and
- Expand to all voice service providers the “know your upstream provider” requirement.