February 16, 2012
FCC Hangs Up On Robocalls
One of the most annoying aspects of life in today´s world -- unsolicited, inhuman telemarketer calls that always come at the most inopportune times -- is getting hung up on by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agency announced Wednesday.
“Robocalls,” those annoying phone calls that telemarketers place at dinner time or while you are trying to relax on a Sunday afternoon, will no longer be allowed to take place without your written consent. However, written consent doesn´t mean handwritten - electronic forms of consent will also suffice.
The ruling comes after the FCC received thousands of complaints from angry citizens tired of receiving the unsolicited phone calls and text messages from annoying telemarketers. The new rules eliminate a loophole that allows telemarketers to place robocalls if they had an “established business relationship” with the consumer. Now they will need to get written consent to call you, even if they have previously done business with you.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Congress and his agency have long recognized a need for consumers to take control over telemarketing calls, and the FCC has long had rules in place to put those customers in control. “But despite these clear ground rules, too many telemarketers, aided by auto dialers and prerecorded messages, have continued to call consumers who don´t want to hear from them,” said Genachowski.
“Consumers who don´t mind getting these calls can still get them,” Genachowski told ABC News. But “those who don´t want them don´t have to,” he added.
However, he cautioned, there will still be some loopholes. Nonprofit agencies such as your child´s school or your local church will still be able to robocall you. Politicians and pollsters will still be allowed to do so as well.
The new rule only affects automated calls. If these telemarketers still want to call you, they can do so as long as a real person is making the call. Of course, you can join the Do Not Call List if you do not want these types of calls either.
The National Do Not Call Registry, found at www.DoNotCall.gov allows you to enter your phone number into a national database, keeping telemarketers from calling you. The registry does require that you re-sign up every five years however. And despite this service, telemarketers will still try to find ways to reach you.
But if you are on the Do Not Call Registry and you are continuing to get calls, depending on the state you live in, you may be able to sue the company.
One way to protect yourself from telemarketers in the first place is to avoid giving out your phone number to companies. Some companies actually share and sell your address and phone numbers to other companies.
The new rule will also require telemarketers to provide an automated way for people to revoke their consent to the robocall by pressing a few keys on their phone during the call. If this happens, the telemarketer must automatically add the person to the company´s do not call list.
“Sometimes, it seems like there´s no escape,” said Commissioner Robert M. McDowell, bemoaning the seemingly constant stream of telemarketing calls. He noted that the rules were narrowly limited to telemarketing robocalls only.
The government hopes that, by striking such a big blow against telemarketers, it will make dinner time in America a much saner experience.
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