FCC Holds Webinar On “How to Deal with Robocalls”

Yesterday, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau held an informational webinar titled “How to Deal with Robocalls.” Kristi Thornton (Associate Division Chief, Consumer Policy Division) began by providing background on the TCPA and robocalls, as well as recent FCC actions pertaining to federal debt collection calls and the emergency purposes exception as it relates to calls placed by schools and utility companies. We previously reported on these actions here and here.

Kristi Thompson (Deputy Chief, Telecommunications Consumers Division) followed by emphasizing that TCPA enforcement is a top priority for the FCC with robocalls making up the single largest area of consumer complaints that the FCC receives. She noted that spam text messages, while currently a small problem compared to voice calls, are becoming an increasing concern for the Commission. She also stated that the FCC has been working in collaboration with carrier companies to curtail the practice of spoofing, which is where a caller masks the calling number to the recipient.

Antonio Sweet (Technology Policy Advisor, Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis) concluded the webinar with a discussion on the technical solutions the FCC has been working on to reduce robocalls. He stated, in part, that when the FCC receives a consumer complaint, the complaint is scrubbed for personal identifying information and then uploaded onto a database for private companies in the business of developing applications or software for phone security to use to block certain numbers from reaching users of their applications or software. Both Ms. Thompson and Mr. Sweet highlighted the collaboration between the FCC and the Robocalling Strike Force, which was initiated at the request of Chairman Tom Wheeler earlier this year, and which we previously covered here.