Markey Applauds FCC Restrictions on Robocalls and Robotexts for Federal Debt Collectors
Senator had introduced legislation to protect federal loan borrowers from harassing phone calls and texts
Washington (August 11, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), House author of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), today applauded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for adopting many consumer protections he called for to help protect student loan and mortgage borrowers, veterans, farmers, taxpayers, and others who have debt owed to or guaranteed by the federal government from harassing robocallers and robotexters. Section 301 of the Budget Act of 2015 exempts federal debt collectors from key provisions of TCPA. While Senator Markey opposed inclusion of that provision in the budget deal, the legislation provided the FCC with the authority to limit some of the potential harm that could result from the unfortunate provision.
“With phones in our palms, pockets and purses, the need to protect the zone of privacy established by the TCPA has never been greater,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. “No American should be harassed by unwanted robocalls and robotexts from federal debt collectors. I am pleased that the FCC has heeded my call and adopted a number of important consumer safeguards to protect consumers from federal debt collectors. I will continue to fight to ensure that government contractors are subject to meaningful restrictions that prohibit them from disturbing consumers with robocalls and robotexts.”
In July, Senator Markey led a letter commending the FCC’s proposed rules and calling on the FCC to put in place several more important consumer protections.
In following with Senator Markey’s request, the FCC has adopted consumer protections that:
- Limit the amount of calls and texts to no more than three per month.
- Notify consumers of their right to request that calls stop.
- Require that all callers cease calls upon request.
- Permit just one call to a reassigned number.
- Restrict the calls and texts to those made just to borrowers – not their family or friends – and for the purpose of collecting on delinquent or defaulted debt.
- Prohibit calls by debt buyers and others who are not collecting debts actually owed to or guaranteed by the federal government.
- Apply the time of call provisions in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (8 AM to 9 PM) to these calls and texts.
Senator Markey is also calling on the FCC to reconsider its recent Broadnet Declaratory Ruling, which formally exempts government contractors from the TCPA. Should government contractors not adhere to TCPA protections, they could robocall and robotext consumers without limits and without first receiving express consent.