ABA to FCC: Efforts to Curb ‘Spoofing’ Must Protect Lawful Calls

In a comment letter to the Federal Communications Commission today, the American Bankers Association urged the FCC to protect lawful calls made by banks and other legitimate businesses as it considers a proposed rule to permit the blocking of certain automated calls. The rule is intended to limit consumers’ receipt of unlawful “spoofed” calls, done with the intent to defraud or cause harm, in which the recipient’s caller ID displays a phone number different than that of the telephone from which the call was placed.

Under the proposed rule, telephone service companies would have the authority to block calls from invalid or unassigned numbers and calls from specific numbers at the request of the person or business to whom the number has been assigned. While ABA supports the FCC’s efforts to stop illegal spoofing, it noted that when making an outbound call, banks often lawfully project an 800 number or local phone number onto the recipient’s caller ID to allow the customer to return the bank’s call free of charge and allow the call to be easily routed to staff that can best respond to the customer’s needs. Granting telephone service providers the authority to block certain categories of illegal calls presents the risk that banks’ lawful calls may be erroneously blocked.

To reduce this risk, ABA supported regulations that would: ensure that blocking decisions are based on real-time information; establish a “white list” of numbers belonging to legitimate callers; and create a process that allows banks and other legitimate callers to quickly regain use of a number that has been erroneously blocked. The association made additional recommendations to ensure that legitimate calls are not blocked.

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