New FCC Rule Would Limit Auto-Dialers

A proposed FCC rule that limits those nuisance auto-dial calls you get on your cell phone probably sounds like a good idea, but some argue that it would keep some important calls from reaching you.

Law firm Morrison & Foerster says the government proposal could affect a range of companies in the banking, loan, credit and collections industries. The rule would make fewer companies exempt from the do-not-call list.

Morrison & Foerster says the new proposal could expose creditors and collectors to private liability and statutory damages under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and would undo an earlier FCC guideline that allowed calls to cell phones when a number had been provided to a creditor in the course of, for example, a credit card application.

“Although it probably comes as no surprise that marketing calls to cell phones are restricted, for example by the do-not-call rules, these new restrictions would apply to any call to a cell phone, including calls to collect a debt, notify a customer of a payment due, or request additional information to complete an application,” the attorneys said.

The new rule hinges on the interpretation of automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDSs) and whether the Telephone Consumer Protection Act rules extend to those who willingly gave their phone numbers to businesses. Since some financial firms can utilize an ATDS to call their customers, business groups for those firms had previously argued successfully for exemption from rules when customers provided their numbers willingly.

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