FCC Moves to Limit Debt-Collector Robocalls

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Are debt collectors getting out of hands? The Federal Communications Commission thinks so.

The FCC last week proposed to limit the number of times debt collectors can use robocalls on those who owe money. The proposal, now open to public comment, will only allow three robocalls per month per delinquency. Robocalls have become a quick, cheap, and easy way for debt collectors to hassle customers who might be delinquent in their payments. However, if a customer doesn't pay a bill on time, he or she might be pestered by the calls on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

"We believe three calls per month provides an adequate opportunity to convey necessary information about the debt, repayment, and other matters the caller wishes to communicate without the consent of the called party and, in any case, affords callers an opportunity to obtain the debtor's consent to make additional calls beyond any limit we adopt," the FCC says.

A call counts toward that three-per-month limit even if the recipient doesn't answer, "because many consumers may choose not to answer calls from unfamiliar numbers, the agency says.

The FCC is now asking for input on its proposal. As The Hill notes, the public comment period ends on June 6; reply comments are then due by June 21.

The commission is required to act on the issue as part of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). According to Republican Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, the FCC's implementation of TCPA has been "nothing short of a disaster." He argued that three calls per month is not enough, pointing to data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which recommends two calls per week, and Treasury, which suggests four per week.

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