Attorney General Koster urges FCC to stay strong on robocall ban
JEFFERSON CITY - Attorney General Chris Koster announced Tuesday his opposition to proposed changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991.
In a letter to Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler, Koster and several other state attorneys general believe the proposed changes would lead to more robocalls directed to consumers' cell phones.
Under federal law, telemarketers cannot employ robocalls or robo texting to reach consumers on their cell phones unless the consumer has given prior express written consent. The American Bankers Association (ABA) and the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) recently proposed changes to the TCPA to create two exceptions to the ban on robocalls to consumers' cell phones. The first exception would allow automated calls and messaging to alert consumers of fraudulent activity on their accounts. The second exception would limit liability for any automated calls or messaging directed to a cell phones unless it could be proven the company intended to call a consumer who had not given prior consent.
Koster and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, along with the attorneys general of Illinois, New York, Tennessee, and Utah are concerned these exceptions could increase the difficulty in prosecuting violations of the law, as proving intent creates a new hurdle in proving liability. Under the TCPA, state attorney generals are empowered to enforce violations against their state's consumers.
"Allowing specific industries to carve-out exceptions to an important consumer protection law is a slippery-slope, which is why we're asking the FCC to stop these proposed changes," said Koster.
Under the current law, consumers can opt-in to robocalling or robo messaging for fraud alerts. Koster argues the current system works while preserving consumer choice.
"Telemarketing laws place the burden on telemarketers to operate lawfully," said Koster. "Allowing certain industries to violate the law and later claim it was unintentional to escape liability is not acceptable to Missouri. Raising the threshold to prove intent makes it even harder for states to protect their consumers from unwanted telemarketing."
Koster reminds Missourians they can sign up for Missouri's No Call list online or by calling 866-No Call 1 (866-662-2551). Missourians can register both landline and cell numbers with Missouri's No Call list. To-date, Missourians have added more than 4.5 million numbers to the No Call Registry. Consumers who receive robocalls on their cell phone can file a complaint at 866-Buzzoff (866-289-9633) or online at ago.mo.gov.
The Attorneys General letter is available online.