Senators Markey and Lee Call on FCC to Protect Americans from Unwanted Robocalls and Robotexts from Debt Collectors

Senators introduced legislation that would protect consumers from receiving abusive robocalls and robotexts on their mobile phones from government contractors

 

Washington (August 4, 2017) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Michael S. Lee (R-Utah) today sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calling for protections for consumers from abusive and invasive robocalls and robotexts from debt collectors. The 2015 budget bill included a harmful provision directing the FCC to prescribe regulations allowing callers collecting federal debt, without first getting consent, to robocall and robotext the mobile phones of student loan borrowers, mortgage borrowers, veterans, farmers, taxpayers, and anyone else with debt owed to or backed by the federal government. While the Office of Management and Budget has yet to formally approve the FCC’s rules, which limit the number of calls, some debt collectors may already be robocalling consumers without consent and ignoring other key consumer safeguards. In 1991 Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the law that ensures that consumers should not be subject to intrusive and unsolicited calls from telemarketers.

 

“The Commission has an important role in protecting the convenience and precious zone of privacy created by the TCPA,” write the Senators in the letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.  “We believe that borrowers are still protected by all of the provisions under the TCPA while the FCC’s rules are awaiting final approval. We strongly encourage you to use your authority to stop these abusive and invasive robocalls.”

 

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.

 

In March, Senators Markey and Lee reintroduced the “Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone calls (HANGUP) Act”. This bill strikes the provision of the 2015 Budget Act that exempts callers collecting debt owed to or guaranteed by the federal government from key robocalling and robotexting protections. The bill also rescinds the FCC’s Broadnet et. al Declaratory Ruling, which formally exempts government contractors from the TCPA.