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CBA Comment Letter re FCC Staff Report on Call Blocking
Dear Ms. Dortch:
The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Federal Communications Commission’s (Commission) staff Report on Robocalls. CBA appreciates the Commission’s efforts to combat illegal automated calls, and feels reporting on fraudulent calls and the technologies that combat them is an important step in an ongoing fight.
Financial institutions regularly communicate with their customers. Limitations and blockades to customer communications can have significant impacts on the financial wellbeing of American consumers. CBA stands aligned with the Commission’s intent to better protect consumers from harmful robocalls from bad actors and understands the need for effective call-blocking regimes to combat fraudulent and illegal activity. Our members comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act every day and are similarly frustrated with the fraudulent and illegal actors that shirk the rules to put consumers’ financial wellbeing in jeopardy. To this end, CBA advocates that there are factors the Commission must consider as it combats fraudulent automated calls to ensure that wanted and necessary calls by legitimate dialers are not inadvertently blocked by call-blocking technologies.
As CBA noted throughout our comments to the Commission during the Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls, legitimate dialers have concerns about the automatic blocking of certain calls by voice service providers.
CBA urges that in allowing voice service providers to implement call-blocking technologies, the Commission ensure notice is given to companies when a voice service provider places a derogatory label such as “potential spam” or “possible fraud” on outbound calls or numbers, or outright blocks those calls from reaching consumers. Often, calls made by legitimate dialers can be mistakenly labelled or blocked by voice service providers as calls can originate from the same number and are often short in duration, similar to many fraudulent calls made by illegal actors. Requiring voice service providers notify all dialers when a call is labelled or blocked will help ensure legitimate dialers are able to connect with their customers while still preventing fraudulent and illegal actors from reaching consumers.
To this end, the Commission should also require voice service providers to provide a challenge mechanism for legitimate dialers to challenge the labelling or blocking of their calls, and inform dialers of this mechanism when notice is given about labelling or blocking. The challenge mechanism should give dialers an opportunity for dialers to combat the labelling or blocking of their calls, as well as provide a permanent solution for those calls which have been mislabeled or erroneously blocked. Notice and challenge requirements will help ensure legitimate calls are not mislabeled or blocked outright, and protect time-sensitive, consumer-desired communications from legitimate dialers.
Finally, to help protect legitimate calls, the Commission should require voice service providers to create a “white list” of legitimate dialers’ phone numbers. This list would be shared among providers and with the Commission to ensure calls from legitimate dialers are not erroneously blocked or mislabeled in the future, which will greatly help consumers receive the communications they want and need.
Once again, CBA stands aligned with the Commission’s intent to combat fraudulent and illegal automated calls, and works every day to ensure consumers have access to the time-sensitive calls they need to protect their financial security. Efforts to allow voice service providers to automatically block and label calls must be done with an understanding of the real costs and consequences at play. Establishing notice and challenge mechanisms to this framework, and establishing a “white list” of legitimate dialers will do much to help ensure legitimate dialers can still reach consumers, while properly curbing bad actors’ behavior and ability to illegally reach consumers.
If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned directly.
Assistant Vice President, Regulatory Counsel
Consumer Bankers Association