On July 13, 2017, the FCC took action to address the issue of robocalls to reassigned phone numbers. They recognize that businesses or other robocallers that unknowingly call a reassigned number can annoy the new consumer and deprive the intended consumer of an expected call. It also places the business at risk for potential fines and lawsuits if the business continues dialing the reassigned number.
In the Second Notice of Inquiry for Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls, the FCC voted to seek public comment on the idea of creating a comprehensive database of reassigned numbers. The intent is to provide businesses and other robocallers with a process for avoiding accidentally calling numbers which are no longer used by consumers who gave their consent to receive the calls.
The FCC uses a Notice of Inquiry to gather information on topics before making important rulemaking decisions. They are asking for feedback on whether voice service providers should report when a number is reassigned and how that data might be managed and utilized appropriately. This includes questions aimed at addressing privacy and security issues.
Direct marketers at times will mistakenly call the wrong person. This issue is very common in situations when the phone number is reassigned from one consumer to another. Creation of a comprehensive reassigned phone number database for businesses and other robocallers could help prevent many unwanted calls that consumers currently receive. In addition, clarity will help callers communicate more effectively with consumers who have consented to such calls.
Initial comments are due on August 28, 2017 and reply comments are due on September 26, 2017. Following this public comment period, the FCC may move forward on further actions such as rulemakings. Any decisions by the commission are at least several months away. We will keep you posted as new information becomes available.
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For additional information on the FCC’s proposal, please read FCC Proposes Call Blocking By Service Providers.