On February 14, 2019, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released its first report on illegal robocalls (“the Robocall Report”) to address the “onslaught of unwanted calls that has led a lot of consumers to stop answering the phone altogether.” This report is compiled based on data points from more than forty comments submitted by voice service providers, trade associations, analytics companies, and consumers. The Robocall Report provided summary analysis on the following issues:
- Overview of federal regulations, data trends, and consumer complaints related to robocalls;
- Current status on the deployment of call-blocking services (including Do Not Originsate blocking, third-party apps, the STIR/SHAKEN standards) and the development of reassigned number database in the wake of the November 2017 FCC rule change (“the Call Blocking Order”) as an attempt to shield legitimate callers from liability and to disrupt the operations of illegal callers;
- The FCC’s and the FTC’s enforcement efforts in the last two years against violators or apparent violators related to TCPA, abandoned-call, robocall, and Do Not Call Registry, as well as the FCC’s progress in pushing for industry-wide cooperation; and
- Current online resources and outreach efforts to educate consumers on how to identify and report scam calls.
The Robocall Report also specifically addressed additional work needed to further existing efforts in combating illegal robocalls. It includes the need for service providers’ network updates when implementing caller ID authentication standards, the need to notify consumers of blocked calls to minimize inconvenience caused by inadvertent blocking of legal calls, the need for industry groups to expand consumer education and fraud prevention, the need for foreign government corporations in enforcing FCC rules on foreign spoofers, the need to establish effective methods to identify VoIP providers, and the difficulty in investigating violations within one-year statute of limitation and in tracking cited offenders who assume new identifies to evade further detection.