Robocallers could be fined up to $10,000 and telephone and other voice providers will face more responsibility to identify and stop the burgeoning robocall epidemic under a bill passed by Congress and awaiting President Trump’s signature. The new rules offer possible relief for millions of Americans besieged by perpetual robocalls, but will mean new responsibilities for voice and text service providers and impact the marketing practices of businesses across the nation that rely upon these calls.
Despite the tightening of federal robocall prohibitions over the past several years, robocalls have continued to surge. According to statistics from the free robocall blocking app for mobile phones YouMail, Americans received more than 5 billion robocalls so far in, 2019. This means an average 167.3 million robocalls are placed per day or 7.0 million calls per hour or 190,000 per second.
While these robocalls affect all communities, certain regions are more heavily targeted. YouMail reports Atlanta, GA leads communities most targeted with 199,110,700 calls followed by Dallas, TX with 187,406,200; Los Angeles, CA with 154,718,100; Houston, TX with 152,960,400; New York, NY with 151,230,400; Chicago, IL with 140,752,400; Baltimore, MD with 103,392,600; Phoenix, AZ with 103,086,000; Newark, NJ with 97,532,400; and the San Francisco Bay Area, CA with 91,224,800.
New Law To Require Telephone & Voice Providers To Act
The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act (S.151) directs the FCC to adopt rules to help protect a subscriber from receiving unwanted calls or texts from a caller using an unauthenticated number and requiring voice service providers to develop call authentication technologies. These rules would
- Establish a framework for voice providers to use to identify and block prohibited robovoice calls;
- Require voice service providers to develop call authentication technologies.
- Require the FCC to initiate a proceeding to determine whether its policies regarding access to number resources could be modified to help reduce access to numbers by potential robocall violators that would: define when a provider may block a voice call based on information provided by the call authentication framework and processes to permit a calling party adversely affected by the framework to verify the authenticity of their calls.
The bill also:
- Requires the Department of Justice and the FCC to assemble an interagency working group to study and report to Congress on the enforcement of the prohibition of certain robocalls. Specifically, the working group will look into how to better enforce against robocalls by examining issues like the types of laws, policies, or constraints that could be inhibiting enforcement;
- Implements a forfeiture penalty for violations (with or without intent) of the prohibition on certain robocalls. The bill also removes an annual reporting requirement for enforcement relating to unsolicited facsimile advertisements.
The statutory changes follow up on a FCC rule change last June that gave voice providers authority to voluntarily identify and block the calls. Despite that additional regulatory permission, the robocalls and texts have continued to surge.
Robocalls are placed by a number or different parties for a variety of reasons, the vast majority are placed by legitimate businesses for reminder, marketing, collections or other business purposes. While not insignificant in number and a substantial fraud and law enforcement challenge, fewer than 30 percent of the reported robocalls are identified as associated with scam marketing. Whether from legitimate or illegitimate, the deluge of robocalls have become increasingly concerning to the American public and law enforcement. Businesses and voice providers reevaluate their plans to rely upon voice communication marketing covered by the bill in anticipation that the new rules will affect their marketing with mass voice or e-mail as individuals and businesses plagued by these calls and texts await relief.
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About the Author
Recognized by her peers as a Martindale-Hubble “AV-Preeminent” (Top 1%) and “Top Rated Lawyer” with special recognition LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® as “LEGAL LEADER™ Texas Top Rated Lawyer” in Health Care Law and Labor and Employment Law; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the fields of “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: ERISA & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is a practicing attorney board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and management consultant, author, public policy advocate and lecturer widely known for 30+ years of health industry and other management work, public policy leadership and advocacy, coaching, teachings, and publications focusing on internal controls and other performance. risk and compliance and operations management.
Scribe for the ABA JCEB Annual Agency Meeting with OCR, Vice Chair of the ABA International Section Life Sciences Committee, past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group and the ABA RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Group, Ms. Stamer’s work throughout her 30 plus year career has focused heavily on working with health care, employee benefit, insurance and financial services and other public and private organizations and their technology, data, and other service providers and advisors domestically and internationally with legal and operational compliance and risk management, performance and workforce management, regulatory and public policy and other legal and operational concerns.
Author of leading works on pay for click and other online, voice and text marketing and data, HIPAA, FACTA, and a multitude of other business marketing, data security and related concerns. Her work includes risk management and compliance counseling and audits, event investigation and redress, representation before regulatory and other bodies; statutory, regulatory and policy advocacy and other assistance to business and government clients. For more information about Ms. Stamer or her health industry and other experience and involvements, see www.cynthiastamer.com or contact Ms. Stamer via telephone at (214) 452-8297 or via e-mail here.
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