The Federal Communications Commission has begun a study to analyze the call-blocking tools available to consumers and is seeking public opinion on the effectiveness of those tools, perhaps offering the credit and collection industry another opportunity to discuss the unintended consequences that the technology is causing.
Last June, the FCC issued a Declaratory Order and launched a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that, among other things, required the agency to study the availability and effectiveness of call-blocking technology.
Comments must be filed before January 29. Comments should identify CG Docket No. 17-59 and WC Docket No. 17-97 for this particular study.
Among the topics the FCC is looking for answers to are:
- The availability of call-blocking tools.
- The effectiveness of call-blocking tools.
- The impact of FCC actions.
“As the FCC continues to pull out all the stops to protect consumers against scam robocalls and spoofing, we expect phone companies and others to make effective tools available to consumers so they can block unwanted and fraudulent calls,” said Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, in a statement. “This report will help us better understand where we stand on call blocking and how the actions we’ve taken to date have worked.”
Call blocking has become a big problem for companies in the credit and collection industry. Some calls from debt collectors are being automatically blocked by carriers and not being connected to individuals with unpaid debts, and in other cases, individuals are labeling incoming calls as scams or spam and causing more problems for debt collectors. The industry has been vocal in expressing their frustrations with the technology and the sometimes arbitrary nature in which calls are blocked.
Another issue — for carriers and the FCC — is deciding which calls to block. An individual may want to receive an automated call reminding him or her of an upcoming appointment with a doctor, but not an automated call from the same number in reference to an unpaid healthcare debt. How will the carriers determine which call to block and which one to go through?