You may know the difference between the FTC and the FCC and which of these organizations is responsible for enforcing the TCPA and the TSR, but it’s very difficult for the general public to keep track of what all of these acronyms* stand for, and which one to complain to when they get a collection call. Perhaps the most common mistake is that collection calls erroneously get put in the same category as telemarketing calls and people think they shouldn’t be allowed, especially if the recipient is on the DNC and/or if the caller is making “robocalls.”
The FTC is holding a Robocall Summit on October 18th. Even though what they primarily will cover (see agenda here) are issues related just to telemarketing calls, the Facebook Q and A they held in July to get consumer input prior to the Summit shows that even the FTC representative who was answering the questions gave an erroneous or misleading answer in response to the inevitable question that came from a disgruntled person who had received calls to collect a debt. (Answer: “File a complaint with the FTC at www.donotcall.gov .”)
A Chance to Clear up Misunderstandings
The National List is not the only organization that thinks this is reason enough for collection industry professionals to sit up, take notice and do what we can to clear up the misunderstandings regarding our industry when the FTC meets. See this issue of InsideARM.
Last month, Dave Rudd of IAT, blogged about his second ACA Washington, D.C. Fly-In. In response to our questions about the FTC Robocall Summit, he said, “The Fly-In was a great learning experience, and I enjoyed sharing the current challenges that the ARM industry is facing with my political representatives. I’ve learned that their offices are inundated with information. If we don’t regularly convey our concerns and needs to them, then it is easy for this information to be lost in the deluge of communications they receive. The October 18th Robocall Summit is another opportunity for our collective voices to be heard in Washington, D.C. Please contact the FTC to try and get on a panel or plan to attend or listen in and submit a question or comment.”
Many consumers, and some government officials, don’t understand that it’s the TCPA that regulates debt collection calls. They are likely to think that whatever comes out of the FTC Robocall Summit applies to the debt collection calls they receive. Rudd continues, “As the TCPA has written and interpreted the law, collection agencies are prohibited from dialing cell phones with modern technology (robocalls), a law we think needs to be changed. Even though this issue is not on the FTC agenda, it and other issues related to debt collection using dialing technology are likely to come up, because the Summit is open to the public. We may have an opportunity to clarify the misunderstandings that commonly go uncorrected. I think there is and should be a lot of interest in the findings of the Summit.”
How to Give Input During the Summit, taken from the FTC Summit Agenda site:
FTC staff will live-tweet the Robocall Summit. The agency’s Twitter handle is @FTC. If you watch the webcast and want to submit questions to participants online, tweet questions with the hashtag #FTCrobo. You may also submit questions via the FTC’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/federaltradecommission.
If you attend, listen in, or participate in any way in the FTC Robocall Summit, we would like to hear from you. Please post a comment below, email email@example.com or call us at 1.800.227.1675.
By Nancy Lender & Dave Rudd
*FTC: Federal Trade Commission (enforces the TSR)
*FCC: Federal Communications Commission (enforces the TCPA)
*TCPA: Telephone Consumer Protection Act (restrictions regarding telephone solicitations and the use of automated telephone equipment)
*TSR: Telemarketing Sales Rule (best known for prohibiting calls to consumers who have put their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, but also combats telemarketing fraud)
*DNC: Do Not Call List (an amendment to the TSR)