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FCC Moves Forward With Reassigned Number Database While Consumer Advisory Committee Endorses Caller ID Authentication System

The Federal Communications Commission is moving forward on multiple fronts to combat the proliferation of robocalls made to consumers.

The FCC announced last week that it will vote at its next meeting, March 22, on the creation of a reassigned number database, which will help companies, including collection agencies, know if a phone number has been relinquished by one individual and given out to someone else. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, an organization has only one attempt to use determine whether a phone number it is calling is owned by the individual the organization is trying to contact.

The FCC has circulated a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which seeks comment on the proposal and provides background as to how the FCC would administer the database. The FCC is seeking comment on three primary areas:

  • The information that callers who choose to use a reassigned numbers database need from such a database
  • How to ensure that the information is reported to a database
  • The best approach to making that information available to callers

Along with the reassigned number database, the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee, has announced its endorsement of the creation of an authentication system for Caller ID systems, to prevent callers from spoofing their phone numbers.

Among the recommendations put forth by the Consumer Advisory Committee are:

  • All voice providers are encouraged to implement caller ID authentication as broadly and quickly as possible. While the costs of adopting this technology may make it hard for some to implement, given the promise of this technology, the FCC should explore incentives to encourage widespread adoption.
  • Service providers and third party call blocking services can offer consumers the ability to block, under appropriate circumstances, calls that fail to authenticate the caller ID information. Consumers should have the option to block or decline potentially fraudulent calls as well as other unwanted calls. Such blocking may not yield perfect results but, with education, consumers can be empowered to use available and emerging tools.
  • Consumers have better protections from spoofed calls originating internationally, which accounts for a significant portion of fraudulent calls.

ACA International said it supports the development of the Caller ID authentication system because it likely will cut down on the number of legitimate calls that are being blocked because of technology that relies on “subjective factors and imperfect algorithms to predict whether a call is likely to be a scam.”

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