ACA, Other Groups, Meet With FCC to Urge For Creation of Call Blocking ‘Guardrails’

ACA International was one of nine trade associations that sent a representative to meet with staff from the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau to urge the regulator to take more steps to notify companies when their calls are being blocked or labeled as potential spam or fraud calls.

A copy of the report from the meeting, which also included representatives from the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM), the American Bankers Association, Consumer Bankers Association, American Financial Services Association, and Mortgage Bankers Association can be accessed by clicking here.

The representatives from the financial services industry presented a report that revealed that 21% of legitimate calls are being blocked, and 24% of calls that were labeled were mis-labeled. The data stemmed from a study conducted by National Sentry in February which analyzed 220,000 outbound calls placed during a three-week span from 561 numbers.

To address the problem, the associations made a number of recommendations to the FCC, including:

  • Requiring voice service providers to provide notice to callers when a derogatory label has been placed on an outbound number or when that number has been blocked.
  • Any call blocking notification should be made through the use of an intercept message or response code.
  • Offering an effective redress mechanism.
  • Requiring voice providers to share information on phone numbers assigned to legitimate businesses that have been mislabeled or improperly blocked.
  • Tracking and reporting to the FCC how many lawful calls are being mistakenly blocked and mislabeled.

Said the groups in their summary of the meeting: “The Associations appreciate the Voice Service Providers’ efforts to reduce illegal automated calls and acknowledge the daunting technical and operational challenges that an error-free blocking and labeling regime will require. Nevertheless, callers and consumers are not receiving proper notice or procedural protections in connection with blocked or mislabeled calls. If left unchecked, these issues will have significant, negative impacts on consumers and the public- switched telephone network. Accordingly, the Associations urge the Commission to adopt modest guardrails to minimize the incidence of mislabeling and over-blocking, especially as the Commission considers any safe harbor for the blocking of lawful calls.”

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