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FCC takes aim at unwanted calls, texts

The Federal Communications Commission Thursday adopted a new standard that removes any doubt that consumer's phone carriers may block "unwanted robocalls and spam texts."

 In a news release Thursday the FCC "affirmed consumers' rights to control the calls they receive."

According to the release the FCC ended any vague legal questions making it clear that telephone companies "face no legal barriers to allowing consumers to choose to use robocall-blocking technology."

The rulings were triggered by thousands of consumer complaints about robocalls the FCC receives each month. According to the FCC, complaints related to unwanted calls are the largest category of complaints received by the FCC, "numbering more than 215,000 in 2014."

Thursday's action is in response to almost two dozen petitions and other requests that "sought clarity" on how the FCC interprets the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, "closing loopholes and strengthening consumer protections already on the books.

The New Robocall Protocol:
– Service providers can offer robocall-
blocking technologies to consumers and implement market-based solutions like NOMOROBO that consumers can use to stop unwanted robocalls.
Empowering Consumers to Say ‘Stop'
– Consumers have the right to revoke their consent
to receive robocalls and robotexts in any reasonable way at any time.
Reassigned Numbers Aren't Loopholes
– If a phone number has been reassigned,
companies must stop calling the number after one call.
Third-Party Consent
– A consumer whose name is in the contacts list of an acquaintance's
phone does not consent to receive robocalls from third-party applications downloaded by the
acquaintance.
-- Medication refills, among other financial alerts or healthcare messages, are allowed without prior consent, but other types of financial or healthcare calls, such as marketing or debt collection calls, are not allowed under these limited and very specific exemptions.

-- Also, consumers have the right to opt out from these permitted calls and texts at any time.

Thursday's actions make no changes to the Do-Not-Call Registry, which restricts unwanted
telemarketing calls, but are intended to build on the Registry's effectiveness by closing loopholes
and ensuring that consumers are fully protected from unwanted calls, including those not covered by the Registry.