ACA Blasts FTC For Supporting Technology That Could Block Legitimate Automated Calls

ACA International sent out a press release this morning, lashing out at the Federal Trade Commission for sponsoring a contest that was aimed at blocking robocalls, but instead could also keep legitimate calls from reaching consumers.

The source of ACA’s ire is technology that aims to identify robocalls and keep them from reaching consumers. But the ACA says that the technology does not have the capability to identify legitimate calls made using “modern calling technology” that include collection calls. 

The FTC awarded $25,000 to RoboKiller and $10,500 to a second company for their innovations. According to the release, RoboKiller identifies calls with computerized voices and forwards them to a “honeypot.” Both RoboKiller and the FTC say that the technology will block “illegal robocalls,” but as ACA points out, it’s not specified how legitimate calls made using modern technology will be allowed to continue to consumers’ landline and mobile phones.

From all appearances, the app fails to understand important distinctions between calling scams or unwanted solicitations and legitimate, non-solicitation, informational calls that provide necessary, expected, and desired information to existing customers of businesses. Such informational calls include financial alerts, utility service updates, upcoming travel information, and payment reminders. Blocking such legitimate, informational calls is inconvenient and, at times, harmful to consumers. 

“Once again, the term ‘robocall’ is used overbroadly here,” said Patrick J. Morris, chief executive officer of ACA International. “Robocalls are calls made by machines that dial random or sequential numbers to reach as many people as possible to scam or solicit business. Many legitimate businesses attempting to reach a specific person with whom they have an existing business relationship may use modern calling technology to reach their customers effectively and efficiently. It is easy to see how those calls could be swept up in this app. It is unfair to presume that just because a company uses modern calling technology that the call is somehow illegal or unwanted.”

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