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June 19, 2017

Attorneys General Target Ringless Robocall Fraud

On the surface, the “ringless robocall” might seem like the kind of robocall that we could actually allow in our lives. Such a call doesn't even set off our phones' ringers, but rather goes directly into our voicemail for later deletion. With the potential for fraud and identity abuse still high, though, the attorneys general from several states are taking aim at the practice, moving to get such tools banned directly by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Three states—Kentucky, Massachusetts and New York—have dispatched their top legal guns to confer with the FCC on the practice, noting that the ringless robocall shouldn't receive exemption from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the act that affords us many of the current protections we enjoy in regards to telemarketing.

The states sent in their attorneys general following an event in March, in which a marketing company called All About the Message LLC set up a petition asking the FCC to specifically declare that ringless robocalls weren't actually “calls” as defined by the TCPA, and thus were not subject to its rules. With such a ruling in place, the various marketers in the regions could use ringless robocalling to leave marketing messages.

Meanwhile, the attorneys general didn't agree. The trio's complete statement calling ringless robocalls both a nuisance and not “meaningfully different” from regular calls despite the lack of a ring. The cost, potential fraud, and abuse of such calls were also pointed out.

Granted, this is just another breed of marketing tool, and honestly, marketers should see this tool for the essential failure it will be. Fraud potential aside, it likely wouldn't work well. Anyone who hears these automated messages will likely delete them in a huff within seconds of starting playback, and may well actively resent the company that sponsored the message. This is a great way to poison a well of consumers, and it shouldn't take federal law to shut down such a practice, but rather pure common sense.

Edited by Alicia Young

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