01.28.15

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND FIGHT TO PROTECT CONSUMERS FROM UNWANTED TELEMARKETING CALLS

FCC Reports More Than 3.7 Million Telemarketing Complaints In 2013

Washington, D.C. – More than twenty years ago, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was passed to protect consumers from unsolicited and intrusive telephone calls from telemarketers while families were eating meals together or parents were helping children with homework. With efforts underway by various industries to weaken TCPA and allow auto-dialers to call consumers’ mobile devices, Senators Schumer, Gillibrand and 11 Senate Democrats today joined in a letter calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reject any attempts to weaken or undermine the law. Since 2003, more than 223 million Americans have put their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. Despite having the Registry in place, the Federal Trade Commission reported 3,748,655 telemarketing complaints in 2013, of which at least 58 percent were reported as including a recorded message.

“Efforts are underway to weaken the Telecom Consumer Protection Act, which would open the floodgates for annoying robocalls to New Yorkers;  the FCC must stop them in their tracks. Under this rule change, spammers and telemarketers would be able to call certain consumers, even if they do not want robocalls, which will lead to an explosion of invasive calls that must be stopped,” said Senator Schumer.

“New Yorkers have a right to their privacy and should be able to enjoy dinner with their families without getting bombarded by pesky telemarketing phone calls,” saidSenator Gillibrand. “Even though there is a registry in place to protect consumers, families are still receiving constant calls that interrupt their daily lives. I urge the FCC to enhance protections to stop these bothersome calls and reject any requests to weaken the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.”

In their letter to the FCC, the Senators wrote, “By banning auto dialing and pre-recorded calls to land lines and mobile phones, with certain exceptions, and establishing the National Do Not Call Registry, the law created a zone of privacy that remains hugely popular with consumers to this day. These protections should continue for years to come. The FCC should reject calls to weaken or undermine this effective law.”

Other signatories on the letter include Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.).

Text of the letter to the FCC can be found below.

January 28, 2015

  

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

 

When Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991, the goal was clear: whether at home or on their mobile phones, consumers should not be subject to intrusive and unsolicited calls from telemarketers.

 

More than 20 years after the enactment of the TCPA, it is clear that consumers have benefited from the law’s protections.  In 1991, Congress was primarily concerned with stopping phone calls while families were eating meals together, parents were helping children with homework, or workers were arriving home after work.  By banning auto dialing and pre-recorded calls to land lines and mobile phones, with certain exceptions, and establishing the National Do Not Call Registry, the law created a zone of privacy that remains hugely popular with consumers to this day.

 

Unfortunately, today there are efforts to weaken this important law.  In response to industry requests, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking comment on proposals that would provide exemptions and questionable safe harbors for businesses that utilize auto-dialers to call consumers’ mobile devices.  We have deep concerns about these proposed changes that undermine the intent and spirit of the TCPA.  

 

American consumers have enjoyed the convenience and privacy that the protections the TCPA have provided for more than two decades. These protections should continue for years to come. The FCC should reject calls to weaken or undermine this effective law. 

 

Thank you for your attention to this issue.

 

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