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NY, MA, KY attorneys general urge FCC to stop ringless robocall messages

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Mon, Jun 5th 2017 02:35 pm
Urging the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on the national onslaught of robocall messages, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear opposed a petition requesting that so-called "ringless robocalls" be exempt from consumer protections under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
 
In the joint comment letter, the attorneys general urged the FCC to not add to the existing "plague" of unwanted robocalls. The petition - filed by All About the Message - seeks an exemption for ringless robocalls that deliver voicemails to consumers without causing their phones to ring, arguing that they should not be considered "calls." The attorneys general argue that this exemption further opens the floodgates to more harassing messages.
 
"New Yorkers are already the victims of countless unwanted phone solicitations," Schneiderman said. "The federal government has a basic responsibility to protect American consumers. That certainly doesn't mean making it even easier for companies to spam them with costly, unsolicited, ringless robocalls."
 
"Massachusetts residents already face a constant barrage of harassing, intrusive and unwanted robocalls," Healey said. "Granting companies a free pass to push ringless voice messages to consumers' phones just adds more robocalls and causes significant financial harm to those who are charged for checking their messages."
 
"Protecting Kentuckians from the constant barrage of unwanted scam and robocalls is an ongoing priority of my office," Beshear said. "We must strengthen the protections to our citizens, not clear the way for costly, unwanted calls."
 
The purpose of the TCPA, enacted by Congress in 1991, is to protect consumers from unwanted and intrusive calls. The FCC's Robocall Strike Force reports robocalls are the No. 1 source of complaints it receives, with consumers receiving an estimated 2.4 billion robocalls per month in 2016.
 
The letter points out these ringless robocalls prevent consumers from blocking unwanted messages with many of the latest call blocking apps for mobile phones. Also, whether the they ring or not, robocalls can impose significant costs on consumers, especially those with prepaid cell phones or limited minutes who are charged for checking their messages. These messages will adversely impact consumers with limited-size voicemail boxes, as they may miss important messages when their voicemail is clogged with unwanted messages. 

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