The Call Blocking Conundrum

Cell phone with a blocked call

FCC’s Proposed Legislature and its Impact on the ARM Industry

Call blocking has been an important focus of the Federal Communications Commission, especially recently at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on June 12. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, or TRACED Act, approved in May by the Senate gives the FCC the power to enforce robocall rules. 

However, despite ACA International advocacy, the Declaratory Ruling made by the committee does not take into account consumer desire to receive certain legitimate robocalls. The major concern of the ARM industry is that lawful calls will be caught in the call blocking net, preventing important information from reaching consumers. 

Because MRS utilizes several multi-channel communication methods, the new ruling will not largely affect the company. The FCC’s ruling carries weight for the future legislation to be set forth concerning collection and other industries reliant on telephonic communication. The FCC, in collaboration with the telecommunications industry, has devised STIR/SHAKEN a national authentication system that will allow the carriers to identify when scammers are hiding their real numbers.

Chief Customer Officer Chris Repholz says, “We believe that STIR/SHAKEN is the right approach. Give the collection industry, and every other industry that contacts people by phone, the ability to register numbers that will enable the carriers to differentiate the legal and legitimate calls from the scammers.”

The FCC’s desire to target and eliminate bad actors is understandable, but businesses urge the organization to distinguish between legal and illegal calls. Before STIR/SHAKEN the amount of calls blocked was left up to phone carrier’s discretion. Chief Risk and Innovation Officer Michael Meyer says, “Carrier are never 100% accurate at identifying which calls are good and which are bad. STIR/SHAKEN functions as a license, an identification, so that these carriers don’t have to decide which calls to block. It’s validation to carriers to pass through the calls.”

MRS recognizes the impact that said legislation could have on the debt collection industry. Repholz says, “Debt collection is already a heavily regulated industry and compliance minded organizations like MRS take great care to call people compliantly and with restraint. Through telephony technology, we reach customers with offers that allow them to pay off balances that may be negatively affecting their credit score. Collection calls are legitimate business communications and we’d hate to see overly broad law-making that negatively impacts customers.”

In order to launch technology to block robocalls, phone companies will charge consumers. This introduces the troubling conundrum of a consumer having to specifically opt out of a hidden bill. Committee members questioned why such a proposed service wouldn’t be free to consumers.

MRS prioritizes customer experience and client goals. Compliance is strategy, results are continual, and innovation is principle. Regardless of any new legislature imposed on the ARM industry, the MRS way of business will not change.