FCC Adopts Reassigned Number Database with Safe Harbor

The Federal Communications Commission today voted unanimously to create a database of phone numbers that have been relinquished by one individual and reassigned to another individual, something that the American Bankers Association has long called for. Under existing case law and the FCC’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act regulations — prior to being struck down by a federal appellate court last March — a bank or other company is liable for a call made in good faith to a party who has consented to receive the call but whose telephone number has been reassigned to another consumer, unbeknownst to the caller.

At ABA’s urging, the FCC also provided a safe harbor from liability for any calls to reassigned numbers caused by database error. In prior comments, ABA explained that a safe harbor was necessary to ensure that banks are not discouraged from placing important calls to their customers and do not face liability for inadvertently calling a reassigned number despite consulting the database.

The FCC also voted to continue to permit voice service providers to apply filtering measures to block messages that are likely spam. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai explained that as a result of existing filtering practices, the spam rate for SMS texts is estimated at less than 3 percent.


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