State Attorneys General Urge FCC to Stop Ringless Robocalls

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By Ayanna Alexander

Three state attorneys general have asked the Federal Communications Commission to put a stop to telemarketers’ ringless robocall messages.

The FCC shouldn’t exempt ringless calls from restrictions on robocalls under the Telephone Consumer Protection (TCPA), the New York, Massachusetts and Kentucky attorneys general said in a June 2 agency filing. Ringless robocalls go straight to a consumer’s voice mailbox without first alerting the recipient of an incoming call.

The filing came in response to a March petition from marketing company All About the Message LLC asking the FCC to declare that ringless robocalls aren’t actually calls under the TCPA. Such a finding would let marketers use automatic dialing systems to leave large numbers of prerecorded voicemails without risking fines or other FCC enforcement actions.

“New Yorkers are already the victims of countless unwanted phone solicitations,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said in a statement. “The federal government has a basic responsibility to protect American consumers. That certainly doesn’t mean making it even easier for companies to spam them with costly, unsolicited, ringless robocalls.”

Ringless robocalls are a nuisance and aren’t meaningfully different from regular robocalls because they still “cause the delivery of a prerecorded message to a consumer through his/her cell phone,” Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) and Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) said in their filing.

The state officials also said that ringless calls cannot be blocked by consumers, which can be a hassle to those who have limited voicemail inboxes or those who are charged for checking their messages.

The final comment period on the All About the Message petition closed June 2. It’s not clear whether the FCC will exempt ringless robocalls from TCPA enforcement. The agency doesn’t comment on pending petitions, an FCC spokesman told Bloomberg BNA June 5. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said he wants the commission to work on “combating the scourge” of robocalls, which are the top source of consumer complaints to the agency.

An attorney for All About the Message didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the state officials’ filing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ayanna Alexander in Washington at aalexander@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

For More Information

The filing from the attorneys general is available at: http://src.bna.com/pwd.

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