We know we’re not alone in the fact that robocalls seem to be an increasing daily annoyance for most of us. In February, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its first report on illegal robocalls, which speaks to what the commission has done to deal with the issue. We’ve culled some interesting snippets of that report to help you stay in the know without slogging through a 15-page report that’s in a tiny font!

1 – Recap: Which laws regulate robocalls?

The report is a good resource to get a handle on the legal muscle the FCC can flex in order to regulate robocalls, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Truth in Caller ID Act, the Do Not Call Implementation Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

2 – It’s not just your imagination: More robocalls, more problems.

No surprise here, robocalls are on the rise. Unfortunately, the report makes no distinction between legit robocalls (made by legitimate businesses trying to communicate with their consenting customers) and illegal robocalls. While the report tips its hat to businesses that are well in compliance with the TCPA in their use of robocalls, it also suggests that the framework used to place those high-volume calls to customers has made it easy for scammers to use that same framework. They are scammers; this is what they do for a living.

Overall, complaints made about robocalls are also on the rise. This is linked to more robocalls and the FCC’s outreach to inform consumers on how to file complaints, which consumers can do whether the calls are compliant with the TCPA or not.

3 – Industry response: Voice providers slated to adopt caller ID authentication

Caller ID Authentication would confirm that the call received by the consumer is coming from the number displayed. Voice service providers have been recommended to adopt such a system no later than the close of 2019, and most providers seem committed to the idea. The robocall plague is no good for them either.

4 – Caveat rob scammers: Enforcement actions are no joke 

The report reiterates the potential wrath of the FCC for failure to comply with the TCPA and the Truth in Caller ID Act. Note that for the period between 2010 and 2018, the Commission imposed monetary forfeitures of almost $246,000,000 through enforcement actions.

5 – Running up that hill: More work ahead for the FCC

Combating illegal robocalls isn’t easy. In the report, the Commission offers a litany of challenges in front of it, including:

  • Many illegal robocalls seem to originate in foreign countries.
  • VoIP providers don’t update the FCC nor keep records of their network traffic.
  • TCPA’s 1-year statute of limitation (SOL) on actions hamstrings the FCC, because complex investigations take forever.
  • Because of citation requirements the FCC must follow before a forfeiture proceeding, many scammers use the head start to vanish, only to re-incorporate under a new name, evading justice.

Bottom Line

There are so many restrictions defined by the FDCPA and case law that extends its practical application, that lays out what can and can’t be said when a debt collector reaches out to customers. For example, it’s a no-no to reveal any information about the account to third parties, which sets many collections calls off on the wrong foot as agents try to make sure they’re speaking with the right party to begin with. Leaving a voicemail is a bigger issue, because the scripts for voicemails must be very vague to cross privacy rules. Therefore, consumers hear vague voicemails and really can’t tell whether they want to return that call. Most won’t, due to this very vagueness. Illegitimate robo-scammers have made it harder for law-abiding businesses to make contact with their customers, making the work of collecting outstanding receivables unwieldy, costly and generally unsuccessful for most businesses.

About Cascade

The Cascade365 Family of Companies includes Cascade Capital, LLC and Cascade Receivables Management, LLC. The Cascade365 suite of products and services include AR purchase, AR finance, master servicing, third party collections, and revenue cycle optimization. We believe in promoting financial accountability while treating consumers and patients in a fair, dignified, and lawful manner.