FCC Releases Declaratory Ruling On Robocalls and Text Messages
The requirements prohibit prerecorded telemarketing calls to residential telephones without consent.
In late June, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clarified Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requirements for automated telemarketing calls (robocalls) and certain text messages through a package of declaratory rulings.
The requirements prohibit using an artificial or prerecorded voice to make telemarketing calls to residential telephones without prior express consent. Also prohibited are using an automatic telephone dialing system (“autodialer”) or an artificial or prerecorded voice to make nonemergency calls to a wireless telephone number without obtaining prior express consent. Consent must be in writing for telemarketing calls to wireless phones. For nontelemarketing calls, consent may be oral or written.
The FCC’s declaratory ruling reaffirmed that consumers are entitled to the same consent-based protections for text messages as they are for voice calls to wireless numbers. A credit union bears the burden of proving it obtained appropriate consumer consent.
For calls to landlines or wireless phones, the FCC clarified that:
- Service providers can offer robocall-blocking technologies that consumers can use to stop robocalls.
- Consumers have the right to revoke their consent to receive robocalls and robotexts in any reasonable way at any time.
- Companies must stop calling reassigned phone numbers after one call.
- A consumer whose name appears in the contacts list of an acquaintance’s phone doesn’t consent to receive robocalls from third-party applications downloaded by the acquaintance.
For wireless calls, the FCC:
- Affirmed the TCPA’s definition of autodialer as any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers. Companies that use robocalls can’t avoid consumer consent requirements through changes in calling technology design or by calling from a list of numbers.
- Reaffirmed that consumers are entitled to the same consent-based protections for text messages as they are for voice calls to wireless numbers.
- Clarified that equipment used to send Internet-to-phone text messages is considered an autodialer under the TCPA, so the caller must have consumer consent.
- Exempted from the TCPA’s consent requirements free calls or texts concerning transactions and events that suggest a risk of fraud or identity theft; possible security breaches of consumers’ personal information; steps consumers can take to prevent or remedy harm caused by data security breaches; and actions needed to arrange for receipt of pending money transfers. The exemption contains a number of conditions, and consumers have the right to opt out from receiving these permitted calls and texts at any time.
The FCC Declaratory Ruling and Order (FCC 15-72) is available at fcc.gov.