FCC to examine 11 recommendations for blocking phone calls


How collections departments can make contact with customers via phone might be impacted by what the Federal Communications Commission is currently reviewing.

The agency’s consumer advisory committee is expected to consider a recommendation from its robocalls working group on blocking unwanted calls during its meeting set for Sept. 18.

Back in May, policymakers created 11 suggestions with the aim of dramatically reducing the flood of unwanted robocalls to consumers, improving consumer education and simplifying the complaint filing process. Those 11 points included:

1. Initiate and prosecute enforcement actions against known robocallers who are violating the law.

2. Ensure a system of effective enforcement, with appropriately escalating penalties against repeat violators.

3. Enhance its current online Unwanted Calls Consumer Guide to consolidate best practices and tips currently shared by other government agencies, and to reflect new guidance and resources emerging from industry’s work on this issue. Currently a number of links are provided to external resources. These resources should be more fully integrated into the aforementioned consumer guide.

4. Ensure that the FCC’s educational resources and complaint forms are available in accessible formats, and languages other than English where appropriate, and encourage others that provide educational resources and the ability to make complaints about robocalls to also do so.

5. Develop educational materials specific to the impact of robocalls on consumers with disabilities. One area of focus should be the use of robocalls over all types of telecommunications relay services (TRS), including video relay services, Internet Protocol Relay, and captioned telephone relay services. Consumer protection tips and resources should be highlighted as well as best practices for relay service providers. A second area to highlight is information and resources about accessible caller id services and equipment usable by people who are blind or visually impaired.

6. Simplify the consumer complaint filing process for unwanted calls. Many consumers receive multiple unwanted calls each day, and would currently have to enter each complaint separately. Developing a form that allows for information to be entered about multiple unwanted calls at once would simplify the process.

7. Create a separate intake portal for unwanted-call complaints. This portal would have a unique icon on the Consumer Complaint Center landing page. With the goal of reducing the burden for consumers of entering a complaint, this dedicated intake form would allow for multiple unwanted calls to be reported and would require the minimum amount of information needed to make the complaint actionable, while allowing other entry fields to be optional.

8. Incorporate educational information into the response sent by the FCC to consumers who submit an unwanted-call complaint. This could be a link to the FCC’s enhanced consumer guide discussed above. The response should also explain how unwanted call complaint data is used.

9. Develop an app that can be used by consumers with mobile devices to quickly file complaints for unwanted calls received on their device. The app should be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. As allowed by the consumer’s privacy permissions, this app would automate the entry of the above-mentioned actionable information, as well as additional details if available.

10. Build upon the existing Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Trade Commission by exploring the value and feasibility of creating a co-hosted single education and complaint portal for the issue. Currently, each agency hosts separate education content and complaint filing portals, and many consumers are unsure of where to file their complaint.

11. Explore making complaint data available to third parties on a near-real time basis in order to maximize its usefulness for companies whose robocall analytics engines use the data to identify telephone numbers that may be candidates for blocking or providing alerts to consumers.

Specific details about the FCC’s upcoming meeting on this topic can be found here.