The last time we had significant updates on the TRACED Act, the Coronavirus Pandemic was still far from happening. So much has changed in these months, but the FCC appears to be staying vigilant with: new regulations so it can impose monetary forfeiture without a citation, progress against one-ring scams, progress in establishing a Traceback Consortium, and more!
It does seem equally as likely that COVID-19 has also served to hasten and embolden the FCC’s efforts to regulate the call center space. Many of the robocalling bad actors in the industry right now are taking the pandemic as an opportunity to push more types of scams.
Furthermore, the FCC has been pressured by the American Bankers Association to deem automated texts and calls placed by banks as falling under the TCPA’s emergency exceptions.
In what follows, we present a short summary of these and other changes and updates related to the TRACED Act which was signed into law on December 30, 2019.
No Citations and Warnings Required before Monetary Forfeiture
As part of the TRACED Act, the FCC is required to take significant action to combat the spread of robocalls. As such, on May 1, 2020, the Enforcement Bureau released an order which bolsters the commission’s ability to fight spam callers by implementing changes to the TCPA.
The order is split into four provisions as follows:
- The FCC is no longer required to issue a warning or citation prior to imposing monetary forfeiture on those who violate the TCPA provision against the use of auto-dialers, filed under section 227(b)
- The FCC is able to fine an additional $10,000 per violation of this provision, applicable to all illegal actors if the commission determines their actions were intentional and “with the intent to cause such violation”
- Raised the period for the statute of limitations against 227(b) violations from 1 to 4 years.
- Raised the period for the statute of limitations against provision 227(e) from 2 to 4 years. 227(e) prohibits misleading or inaccurate caller ID information as part of the Truth in Caller ID Act.
Progress Against One-Ring Scams
The one-ring scam is one of the most elusive types of scam the FCC must take actions against as per the TRACED Act. It involves callers ringing for a very short time to entice the victim to call back, which then results in unwanted charges. These charges go almost entirely into the pockets of the people where the call originated.
Many one-ring scams are international, and many still violate the Truth in Called ID act by using spoofed numbers with the intention to defraud people.
The FCC has asked for comments relating a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking it posted April 28, 2020. The provisions proposed by the FCC include:
- Allowing the Voice Service Providers to determine when a number is highly-likely to be a one-ring scam and block it themselves. This would essentially allow the Voice Service Provider to use its ability to see where the calls purport to originate and block the ones that seem suspicious.
- Allowing good-faith blocking of numbers that have been identified as one-ring scams by creating a safe harbor.
- Working with foreign governments to stop one-ring scams
- Working with the FTC to educate consumers on how one-ring scams work
- Creating incentives for Voice Service Providers to be willing to stop these scams on their own
- Regulating international gateway providers to prohibit one-ring scams.
No deadline has yet been set for comments by the Federal Register.
Progress Establishing Traceback Regulatory Consortium
One of the most important provisions of the TRACED Act has to do with STIR/SHAKEN and the requirement to establish a Regulatory Consortium of private companies that will lead the efforts to trace back any suspected illegal robocall.
The process is designed so that the Government and the private sector will cooperate in a private-led initiative to stop robocalls altogether or significantly reduce their frequency and discourage bad actors from conducting business with companies that may “turn them in”, so to speak.
To such end, the FCC released on April 20 a public notice by which it is soliciting letters of intent from parties or companies interested in being part of or representing the Traceback Regulatory Consortium.
The deadline for the letters is May 21 and all stakeholders are allowed to comment on the letters by June 5, 2020.
Progress on Database for Reassigned Numbers
One of the lesser provisions of the TRACED act is the requirement that the FCC regularly report on its efforts to create a Reassigned Numbers Database. The creation of this database is not a requirement in and of itself simply because the FCC had started the process before the TRACED Act was even signed into law.
The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released on April 16 a Public Notice to establish the guidelines on how the RND should work.
The purpose of this database is to tell dialers whether it’s safe to dial a number or not, based on whether the data of the dialer matches that of the database. In case it does not match, it means the number was permanently reassigned to a different consumer. If such is the case, the dialer will not be granted a safe harbor to proceed with the call.
COVID-19 Exceptions for Financial Institutions
The American Bankers Association has pressured the FCC to allow automated dialers, voice recordings, and texts having to do with COVID-19 under the TCPA’s emergency provisions.
Comments on the Petition for Expedited Declaratory Ruling, Clarification or Waiver have been closed May 6. The majority of the commenters agreed that the FCC should issue an interim clarification in order to protect banks, credit unions, and other financial service providers from harm during the pandemic when they often have to send sensitive financial health-and-safety messages to their customers.
The deadline for replies is May 21.
No Rest for Regulations
Is this the time for new regulations? Not entirely sure.
What we do know is that you can be sure your numbers are safe if you go with us for your carrier and contact center software solutions. We’ve got the absolute best team of support people and engineers who work tirelessly with customers to pass their numbers through the attestation process.
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