December 20, 2023
FCC Implements Robotext Regulations and Closes Lead Generation Loophole
The FCC has focused on combating unwanted consumer calls in recent years and stepped up those efforts in 2023. New regulations and enforcement efforts have allowed regulators to target some of the worst offenders. As a result, the number of robocalls has been steadily decreasing.
Still, some robocalls persist, and added to them is the scourge of robotexts. During May 2023 alone, U.S. consumers received 14.2 billion of these unwanted texts, causing immense frustration for smartphone owners. In response, the FCC recently added new rules to curb the tide of these illicit communications.
FCC Adopts New Regulations to Protect Consumers
On Wednesday, December 13, 2023, the FCC adopted new regulations to combat robocalls and robotexts more efficiently. Until this action, robotexts were largely unregulated by Do-Not-Call protections, leaving consumers vulnerable to a flood of marketing texts. Now the FCC requires mobile carriers to block certain red-flagged numbers.
This new regulation gives DNC protection to text messages. It is now illegal to send marketing texts to consumers on the DNC registry. The FCC is also advising service providers to allow customers to opt-in to mail-to-text message services. This regulatory change will further limit unwanted text communications.
Lead Generation Loophole Closed
In addition, the FCC action shuts down consent farm lead generation. Previously, robocallers and texters were able to use a single consumer approval to greenlight communications from multiple telemarketers. Now, each seller must obtain its own consumer consent to send texts or calls. This new regulation offers significant relief to American consumers.
In the past, robocallers bought consumer data from online shopping sites and through other lead-generation methods. Once a consumer consented to receive texts or calls from a seller, bad actors shared this data and consent with other parties. Consumers frequently saw their phones “blow up” with calls and texts from companies they did not recognize or authorize to contact them.
Under the new regulations, businesses must acquire consent from one seller at a time. They cannot get consent once and share it with multiple organizations. The lead-generation loophole is no more, and telemarketers who fail to abide by these practices can face serious penalties for dialing and texting non-consenting leads.
New Robotext Regulations
Robotexts will now fall under the same DNC regulations as calls, so sending a robotext to a number on the DNC will face the same penalties as a call does. This simple change offers relief to millions of frustrated citizens. It also promises to limit bad actors in the industry. To summarize, the FCC has made the following changes to robotext regulations:
- The FCC will require mobile carriers to block texts from certain red-flagged numbers.
- Text messaging is subject to the same Do-Not-Call list protection as marketing calls.
- Service Providers should make email-to-text messages an opt-in service.
- Sellers must get consumer consent for marketing efforts one at a time. Multiple permissions are no longer allowed.
- The FCC has also proposed additional steps for limiting illegitimate texts and calls such as stronger blocking requirements for probably scam text-generating numbers. It is also working on stronger text message authentication measures in line with current Stir/Shaken call regulations.
While regulators have had some success in deterring robocalls, they are still a critical issue that leads to billions in fraud losses each year. The number is expected to reach $58 billion globally in 2023.
Political Call Exemptions
With a presidential election on the horizon, the number of campaign calls and texts is multiplying, much to the dismay of many recipients. Consumers hoping for FCC relief on this front are going to be disappointed. Political communications are exempt from most of these new regulations even though they frequently use robotext technology. Political campaigns and polling companies will be conducting their business as usual.
Robocall Investigation Partnerships with FCC
All 50 states have a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the FCC that codifies cooperation between state robocall investigators and the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. They agree to share information and “cooperation structures” to investigate robocall scams and spoofing efforts. These joint actions include seeking records, interviewing witnesses, investigating consumer complaints, etc. States benefit from the greater resources the FCC offers, and the FCC more easily gathers information from far-flung geographical areas. The MOUs are an effective weapon against robocallers and robotexts.
Abiding By Ethics in Telemarketing
As the FCC continues to strengthen its regulation and enforcement, ethics is more important than ever in telemarketing. Businesses risk heavy fines and penalties for not following compliance regulations. In addition, poor dialing practices can ruin a company’s reputation and standing with consumers. Failure to adhere to new robotext regulations will only heighten your business challenges. Engaging in unethical or shoddy practices is simply a poor business decision.
Abiding by ethics has become essential as new regulations target loopholes and unwanted calls. You may have used methods in the past that will no longer be tolerated by regulators. Embracing a tougher ethical stance can future-proof your contact center’s dialing practices and help rebuild consumer trust.