Last week the FCC started releasing a regularly-updated spreadsheet of robocall complaints, including the number displayed on Caller ID during the call. This should make it pretty easy for companies to create apps that block calls from those numbers. It could be like a crowdsourced spam blocker for phone calls and text messages. [the Verge]
The ill-thought-out bill sponsored by Nebraska representative Lee Terry that would have allowed debt collectors, banks, and other companies to robocall your cell phone appears dead, according to US PIRG. Phew.
Unsurprisingly. The obscurely-named “Mobile Information Call Act of 2011” would allow robo-callers to dial your cell phone, something the Telephone Consumer Protection Act currently prohibits.
As US PIRG points, out, the debt collection industry claims that robo-calling harassment is rare, perpetrated only by isolated, rogue operations. But “[i]f that were true, why does the FTC receive ‘more complaints about the debt collection industry than any other specific industry'”?
The debt-reduction bill President Obama just sent to Congress would allow agencies collecting federal debts—including student loans—to use robo-calls to collect. Hey, maybe more harassment would get more people to pay down the federal debt.
(Hat tip to Consumerist!)
As of September 1, 2009, telemarketers cannot make prerecorded commercial calls to customers without obtaining written permission in advance. Debt collectors, however, do not fall under the new FTC rule, because their calls are apparently “informational messages.”
Phone calls from debt collectors are still subject to the FDCPA, of course.
Other purely informational messages include flight notifications, appliance delivery notifications, and school closings. (Somehow, these messages seem in a different category than debt collection calls.)
If you receive a robocall and have not “opted in” by written notification, you can visit www.ftc.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP to file a complaint. Violators are subject to penalties of up to $16,000.