FCC Issues Fact Sheet Rather Than Clarity on TCPA Proposals

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Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Tom Wheeler, released a fact sheet on a proposal related to clarifications of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The proposal theoretically addresses two dozen petitions that sought clarity on how the Commission enforces the TCPA. These petitions include requests from collection industry association ACA International as well as the American Bankers Association and the Consumer Bankers Association.

The Chairman believes he is proposing a set of actions that, if adopted, will close loopholes and strengthen consumer protections already on the books.

The fact sheet references proposed rulings that Mr. Wheeler has circulated to the other commissioner, but the complete proposals were not available for review.

The TCPA explicitly empowers the FCC to enforce and interpret its consumer protection provisions. There are two main ways the commission may do this:

  • Through a formal rulemaking process where notice and public comment period would be required, or
  • Through declaratory rulings.

In this instance Chairman Wheeler has chosen to act through declaratory rulings. He has circulated his proposed declaratory rulings to the other commissioners, thus bypassing the notice and public comment period required under the formal rulemaking process. The proposals will be voted on as a single omnibus item. The vote is scheduled to take place at the next FCC Open Meeting on June 18, 2015. If approved, these rulings would be considered final upon their release.

The two page a fact sheet is heavy on rhetoric and light on specific details. Based on our review of document, it does not appear that the proposed rulings are favorable to the ARM industry, nor do they respond favorably to issues raised by ACA or the CBA in their petitions to the FCC. A review of the complete proposals may provide better guidance.

Highlights from the proposed rules are:

  1. Consumers would have the right to revoke their consent to receive robocalls and robotexts in any reasonable way at any time.
  2. If a phone number has been reassigned, callers must stop calling the number after one call.
  3. Defines an “autodialer” as any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers. The rulings would ensure robocallers cannot skirt consumer consent requirements through changes in calling technology design or by calling from a list of numbers.
  4. Allow for very limited and specific exceptions for urgent circumstances (such as calls from a pharmacy regarding a prescription or calls from a bank or credit card issuer regarding possible fraud activity).

insideARM will continue to monitor this story and provide updates when available.

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Posted in Accounts Receivable Management, Collection Laws & Regulations, Collection Laws and Regulations, Debt Collection News, Featured Post, Opinion, TCPA .

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Continuing the Discussion

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  • avatar denise-densmore says:

    This whole situation is SO broken. I have gotten calls and texts on my cell for years about some medical debt. It is on the Do Not Call list. I have told these debt collectors I am not the person they want. I have told them I do not know the person they want. It does no good.

    Debt collectors need to check things out. One of the places that called and called and called was local. I took them to small claims court. The guy cried and pleaded, blamed the medical office and who knows what. The judge did not care. The guy told me I was taking food out of his kids’ mouths. I told him to pay up, or I’d have a sheriff sale done on his office.

    I might tolerate one call, and believe that the medical office passed along an old number. But after years, no way. Sorry, debt collectors!

  • avatar Sisko says:

    How can a debt collector verify if a phone number has been reassigned?

  • avatar bill-jones says:

    How could a debt collector verify if a phone number has been reassigned? Wow! Comments like this is why its so easy to nail collectors for violations. Seriously, my eight year old son could confirm if a number has changed ownership within 20 minutes. It’s 2015 pal, skip tracing can be performed by room full of monkeys.

    This is the exact reason why I started my crusade against the collections industry. Years ago, I received at least 15 calls a day from a collector looking for someone I had no clue about. I even sent the idiot agency a statement from the phone company showing the exact date I enrolled with the company and was assigned the number.

    After receiving this information, the calls never stopped and the idiots used the information on the statement and reported the debt as mine on all three credit reports. This was not some fly by night operation but a collection agency that makes millions a year. By the time I was done with these idiots, I was able to purchase a fully loaded BMW with 25% of the settlement.

  • Sisko – I think what Mr. Jones (no relation!) was TRYING to say is that there are several data companies out there that have access to this information that can help you on a batch basis. Those of us in the industry realize that you cannot one by one verify all of the numbers you have. Send your phone numbers to one of these companies and they will run a phone ownership product to help you determine if the current owner of the number is who you believe it to be. However, with the increased use in cell phones, the portability of the numbers, and the rate at which people change numbers, you should make this scrub a regular part of your business in order to make sure you maintain your compliance.

  • avatar richard-fish says:

    My company uses a hosted predictive. We are making changes now, as are my industry friends. These companies are getting shut down by lawsuits. Our attorney thinks we have to get used to dialing phones like we did 15 years ago.

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