Joint Trades Comment Letter re the FCC's Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The American Bankers Association, ACA International, American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, American Financial Services Association, Consumer Bankers Association, Credit Union National Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, National Retail Federation, and Student Loan Servicing Alliance (the Associations) appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Federal Communications Commission’s (Commission) Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Further Notice) in the above-captioned proceeding.

The TRACED Act mandates that the Commission take specified steps to prevent illegal calls from being completed and to provide redress for lawful calls that are erroneously blocked. The Further Notice seeks comment on how the Commission can further implement the TRACED Act’s requirements, including how quickly Voice Service Providers should be required to notify the caller of an erroneously blocked call and how quickly Providers should be required to remove the block.

The Associations share the Commission’s twin goals of protecting consumers from illegal automated calls while ensuring that consumers continue to receive important, often time-sensitive, calls from lawful businesses, including health care providers, pharmacies, electric utility companies, grocers, retailers, banks, credit unions, student loan and mortgage servicers, collection agencies, and other financial services providers. Consumers are harmed when outbound calling numbers used by lawful businesses are mislabeled, or calls from those numbers are blocked, because they may not receive lawful calls affecting their health, safety, or financial well-being. These calls include, for example, safety alerts, fraud alerts, data security breach notifications, product safety recall notices, healthcare and prescription reminders, power outage updates, and other necessary account updates and reminders needed to maintain financial health.  Some calls placed to consumers are required by federal or state regulators, such as certain mortgage servicing calls. It is critical for consumers that these calls be completed without delay. For some calls, whether the call is completed “can have life or death consequences for the intended recipient,” as the Senate’s report on the TRACED Act concluded.

As discussed below, the Associations request that the Commission continue its work in implementing the TRACED Act and protect consumers and callers by:

(1) requiring Voice Service Providers to notify callers immediately when a call is blocked;

(2) requiring Voice Service Providers to remove erroneous blocks promptly — no later than 24 hours after the Provider learns of the block;

(3) prohibiting a Voice Service Provider from blocking a call that cannot be authenticated under the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication framework because the call originated from a Provider that cannot sign calls or the call traveled through a Provider that is unable to transmit the authentication information; and

(4) requiring Voice Service Providers to apply the TRACED Act redress mechanisms to the third-party call-labeling services that Providers utilize.