Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler recently introduced a proposal to close loopholes, reaffirm current anti-robocall rules, and encourage wireless and wireline carriers to do more to fight against unwanted telemarketing calls and spam text messages reaching consumers. While telemarketing offers a great way to reach existing and potential customers, it can also be abused by people that use overly aggressive selling techniques and deceptive tactics. Unwanted robocalls, robotexts, and telemarketing calls are the biggest source of complaints that the FCC receives.
In the past, phone companies have expressed concerns that automatic call-blocking might violate laws requiring them to connect phone calls. This initiative will close loopholes and cut through the confusion over technology that carriers can implement to block these calls. In addition, it seeks to encourage wireless and wireline carriers to do more to fight unwanted telemarketing calls and spam text messages.
Telemarketing falls under federal control through two statutes:
- • The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA)
- • The Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR)
The FCC regulatory authority comes from TCPA, while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for enforcing TSR. The US Small Business Administration website has detailed guidance on the rules.
Most employees at large enterprises would never cross the line with how they use telecom services to generate new sales and contact existing clients. But FCC carrier fines for third party cramming of their customers shows how things can get out of hand. Internal use and outsourcing of robocalls, robotexts, and telemarketing calls are areas that few telecom managers normally investigate. However, the new proposal from the FCC presents a good opportunity for telecom managers to proactively provide useful information to employees.
Aside from their fiduciary responsibility to manage expense, telecom managers can serve as a catalyst for discussion on how the organization will comply with the new proposal. Telecom managers do not have to get into all the details of how the organization is using robocalls, robotexts, and/or telemarketing. However, these tools need to be considered when establishing policy.
Like mobile policy, this is an area that will require work with different departments and stakeholders, including human resources, legal, and business units. In addition to policy development, telecom managers will find a role in ongoing education and proactive monitoring when new services are ordered or there are spikes in telecom use. Proactive work in raising concerns in this area can also help increase telecom managers’ profiles and careers through interaction with peers in other departments.