FCC Tightens Safeguards to Thwart Unwanted Calls

Commission responds to requests from businesses and attorneys general for guidance on robocall blocking; autodialers; recycled phone numbers, and more

 

If you are among those who are fed up with receiving unwanted robocalls and spam texts – and that’s likely most of us – you will pleased to hear the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has OK’d new rulings to restrict this intrusion in our lives.

Victory State Bank, Staten Island’s only community-based commercial bank, views the FCC’s recent adoption of a proposal to protect against unwanted robocalls and spam texts as a providing much needed clarity for consumers and businesses.

In a package of declaratory rulings approved on June 18, the FCC affirmed consumers’ rights to control the calls they receive. As part of the package, the Commission also made clear that telephone companies face no legal barriers to allowing consumers to choose to use robocall-blocking technology.

LARGEST CATEGORY OF COMPLAINTS 

The rulings were inspired by thousands of consumer complaints about robocalls the FCC 
receives each month. Complaints related to unwanted calls are the largest category of complaints 
received by the Commission, numbering more than 215,000 in 2014.

The action addresses almost two dozen petitions and other requests that sought clarity on how 
the FCC interprets the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), closing loopholes 
and strengthening consumer protections already on the books.

The TCPA requires prior express consent for non-emergency autodialed, prerecorded, or artificial voice calls to wireless phone numbers, as well as for prerecorded telemarketing calls to residential wireline numbers. 

Highlights for consumers who use either landline or wireless phones include: 

GREEN LIGHT FOR ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ TECHNOLOGY

Service providers can offer robocall-blocking technologies to consumers and implement market-based solutions that consumers can use to stop unwanted robocalls. 

EMPOWERING CONSUMERS TO SAY ‘STOP’

Consumers have the right to revoke their consent to receive robocalls and robotexts in any reasonable way at any time. 

REASSIGNED NUMBERS AREN’T LOOPHOLES

If a phone number has been reassigned, companies must stop calling the number after one call.

THIRD-PARTY CONSENT

A consumer whose name is in the contacts list of an acquaintance’s phone does not consent to receive robocalls from third-party applications downloaded by the acquaintance.
Additional highlights for wireless consumers include: 

AFFIRMING THE LAW’S DEFINITION OF AUTODIALER

 “Autodialer” is defined in the Act as any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers. This definition ensures that robocallers cannot skirt consumer consent requirements through changes in calling 
technology design or by calling from a list of numbers. 

TEXT MESSAGES AS CALLS

The Commission reaffirmed that consumers are entitled to the same consent-based protections for texts as they are for voice calls to wireless numbers.

INTERNET-TO-PHONE TEXT MESSAGES

Equipment used to send Internet-to-phone text messages is an autodialer, so the caller must have consumer consent before calling.

VERY LIMITED AND SPECIFIC EXEMPTIONS FOR URGENT CIRCUMSTANCES

Free calls or texts to alert consumers to possible fraud on their bank accounts or remind them of important 
medication refills, among other financial alerts or healthcare messages, are allowed without prior consent, but other types of financial or healthcare calls, such as marketing or debt collection calls, are not allowed under these limited and very specific exemptions.

Also, consumers have the right to opt out from these permitted calls and texts at any time. 

The FCC actions make no changes to the Do-Not-Call Registry, which restricts unwanted 
telemarketing calls, but are intended to build on the Registry’s effectiveness by closing loopholes 
and ensuring that consumers are fully protected from unwanted calls, including those not covered 
by the Registry. 

 

 

About Victory State Bank

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island: The main office in the community of Great Kills, and branches in the communities of West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank. For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100 or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

 

 

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