FCC Adopts Call-Blocking Ruling With Key Proviso for Legitimate Callers

The Federal Communications Commission today unanimously adopted a ruling permitting voice service providers to enroll customers automatically in a call-blocking program designed to identify unwanted calls. The ruling, which is effective immediately, requires that customers be able to opt out of the program.

In an important change from the draft version released last month, today’s declaratory ruling includes a requirement that telephone companies provide a mechanism for allowing banks and other legitimate callers to report when the bank’s calls are erroneously blocked and to have those blocks removed. In meetings with Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and key FCC staff and through several letters to the FCC over the past week, ABA and other trade groups had urged the FCC to require providers to offer a robust challenge mechanism for legitimate calls that are inadvertently blocked.

“Our members share the FCC’s goal of eliminating illegal, automated calls,” said American Bankers Association EVP Virginia O’Neill after the FCC meeting today. “Today’s declaratory ruling advances that goal, while at the same time taking an initial step to prevent consumers from missing critically important and time-sensitive calls affecting their financial well-being, health and safety.”

O’Neill added that as the ruling is implemented, ABA will continue to call on the FCC to ensure that callers can be notified in a timely and efficient manner when their calls are erroneously blocked so that consumers can continue to receive important information, such as fraud notifications and low balance alerts.