Voice service providers are going to start keeping track of the most recent date in which a phone number was permanently disconnected and must age phone numbers for 45 days before reassigning them by July 27, according to an announcement from the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.
Small business voice service providers have an additional six months — to January 27, 2021 — to comply with the rule.
The FCC has been working on a rule creating a reassigned numbers database for nearly three years. The objective is to provide companies with information to help them make sure they are calling the individual they intend to reach. Knowing that a phone number has been reassigned can tell a company not to contact that number.
Earlier this year, the FCC announced some of the guidelines that will be put in place in accessing and updating the database. Inquiries made to the database will receive one of three possible responses — “Yes” meaning a number is in the database and the date provided in the query is the same as or before the permanent disconnect date for that number in the database. “No” meaning a number is in the database and the date the caller provides in its query is after the permanent disconnect date contained in the database, or if the number is not in the database and the date the caller provides is on or after the date all providers are required to report disconnected numbers to the database. “No Data” about the number and a permanent disconnect date is available. Callers will be eligible for a safe harbor for using the database if a “Yes” or “No” answer has been supplied, but not for a “No Data” response.
There have been some concerns, though, that the way the database is being created will not be of much help to companies in the credit and collection industry. Because the database will not keep track of the date that a number was reassigned, new placements made to a collection agency do not always include the date that the last right-party contact was made, meaning the agency may not have any confidence in establishing a date in which the consumer was likely associated with that number.