| July 29, 2015

No More Excuses for Pre-Recorded Mobile Calls

FCC confirms mobile autodialing violates TCPA in new ruling.

Mobile technology has changed the face of business-consumer interaction, giving businesses a new way to find and communicate with customers and clients. Unfortunately some businesses have used gray areas created by mobile tech as an excuse to hassle customers in ways that violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Luckily, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) delivered an official ruling that closes the gaps on mobile tech to protect consumers once again – particularly when it comes to mobile robocalling. That’s the practice where a business prerecords a message then sends it out to a group of consumers. Now, businesses have to get the express consent from a person before they’re allowed to send such messages to mobile phones.

From telemarketing to collection calls

This doesn’t just limit annoying telemarketing calls either – often debt collectors will use robocalling to reach out to consumers they believe owe on debts they hold in an attempt to scare them into calling back. So you receive a prerecorded message that the company believes you owe money on a debt and to call them back immediately.

This new ruling puts a stop to that strategy, because now the collector would need your consent before they could leave you that kind of message – meaning that would already have to have talked to you to confirm you are the person they’re really looking for and that they have permission to call your phone. So the new ruling means mobile robocalling really can’t be used as a means for tracking down borrowers who have debts in collection.

Reassigned numbers are no excuse

The FCC even closed a gap on businesses excuse for placing robocalls to the wrong person. These days with technology being so prevalent, mobile numbers are often reassigned to different people. As a result, a business or collector could be robocalling the wrong person because they have an old number. Businesses claimed this wasn’t their fault, but the result was a large number of annoyed consumers being harassed for debts that weren’t even theirs to pay.

 
The new ruling only allows one exemption for the first wrong-number call, but not any calls after that. As FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler states, “The new user of a reassigned phone number shouldn’t have to put up with being abused by callers for the old user of the phone number.”

It’s worth it to report violations

Of course, just because a ruling has been passed down, it doesn’t mean that the robocalls you may be receiving will suddenly stop. However, violations of the TCPA cost a company money if they’re reported and confirmed. Unsolicited calls cost a business $500 per call or $1,500 if they make a call after a personal has expressly stated they do not wish to be contacted.

You can report TCPA violations through the FCC website or by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).

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