Groups Ask FCC to Fix Apparent Error Related to Order Limiting Calls to Landlines Without Consent

In a development that was first published at TCPAWorld.com, a coalition of trade groups, including ACA International, have asked the Federal Communications Commission to correct an apparent error that “inadvertently” imposes a prior written consent requirement on informational prerecorded or artificial voice calls to residential numbers.

The error stems from an order the FCC issued in late December that restricts the number of non-telemarketing calls that can be made by non-commercial, commercial, and tax-exempt nonprofit organizations under the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act to three calls within any consecutive 30-day period.

Imposing a written consent requirement “was clearly in error,” the groups wrote in their letter to the FCC, which followed a conference call that the groups had with the agency. The groups, which include the American Bankers Association, the American Financial Services Association, and the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, are asking the FCC to issue an erratum that removes the word “written” from the order and to clarify that all that is needed is prior express consent. “If the Commission had intended to impose a prior express written consent requirement on informational prerecorded or artificial voice calls, it would have amended that definition to encompass informational calls,” the groups wrote.

The order issued by the FCC has sent shockwaves through the accounts receivable management industry, with many wondering what the effect of the reduction in the number of calls that can be made to landlines without first obtaining the proper consent is going to have on their businesses.

“The FCC’s new rules will therefore inevitably lead to more lawsuits,” wrote David Kaminski from Carlson & Messer when the rule was released. “Many debt collectors might decide not to use artificial or pre-recorded voice calls under the new rules to avoid the risk of costly litigation and the burdens of complying with the new rules. The new rules impose the following obligations: a duty to keep track of how many artificial or pre-recorded voice calls are placed to each landline number every month; to obtain prior express consent to place more than three artificial or pre-recorded voice calls per month; to create an opt-out mechanism; and to ensure that debtors who have opted out are not called.”

Watch a replay of a webinar discussing the changes made by the FCC here:

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