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FCC Proposes Rule To Apply Anti-Robocall Measures Internationally

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is seeking to close a robocall loophole big enough to drive a truck through via a proposed rule that his agency will vote on next month.

And while the move is another attempt by the FCC to do something, anything, to combat the proliferation of automated calls plaguing consumers, it is likely not to make much of a dent in the fight.

Yesterday, Pai announced a proposed rule that would extend prohibitions against robocalls that were passed last year in the Ray Baum’s Act to text messages and international calls. Previously, the anti-proofing prohibitions in the Ray Baum’s Act only applied to domestic robocalls.

The FCC will vote on the proposal at its August general meeting.

“Scammers often robocall us from overseas, and when they do, they typically spoof their numbers to try and trick consumers,” Pai said in a statement. “Call center fraudsters often pretend to be calling from trusted organizations and use pressure tactics to steal from Americans. We must attack this problem with every tool we have. With these new rules, we’ll close the loopholes that hamstring law enforcement when they try to pursue international scammers and scammers using text messaging.”

The FCC received 35,000 complaints about caller ID spoofing in the first six months of 2019, the agency announced.

What will matter most to actually stopping internationally-originated robocalls is whether the proposed rules allow it to investigate and take action against the scammers, rather than just making the practice illegal without any enforcement authority.

The FCC has undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at combating the proliferation of robocalls. From a credit and collection industry perspective, the catch is to differentiate between illegal and unwanted robocalls and other automated calls, such as those from debt collectors, schools, or doctor’s offices, that are legitimate in nature.

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