FCC Comment Period Open on Proposed Revisions to its Rules under TCPA
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Posted by: Sharon Edmondson
Last November, in pushing through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, Congress inserted minor amendments to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to create a new exception to the TCPA’s prohibition on autodialed and prerecorded calls to cell phones, to allow such calls when placed to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States. The TCPA amendment was not universally supported, and legislation has been introduced in the current Term of Congress to roll back the changes, but little progress has been made. Meanwhile, the amendments require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue implementing rules by August 2016 that will govern the number and duration of calls, and potentially other specifics, with respect to the new permission in the statute for federal debt collection calls.
Now the FCC is inviting comment on proposed revisions to its rules under the TCPA to implement the provision in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 that excerpts from the TCPA’s prior express consent requirement autodialed and prerecorded calls “made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States government.” The Notice of Public Rulemaking (NPRM) seeks comment on (a) limiting autodialed/prerecorded calls to cell phones to collect federal debt to 3 calls a month per overdue account, (b) prohibiting calls to debtors’ relatives and friends, and (c) requiring a right for the debtor to opt out of future calls. The NPRM also will propose to limit the new exception to allow the calls only after a debtor becomes “delinquent.”
Comments are due on or before June 6, 2016. Reply comments are due on or before June 21, 2016.
Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System through the Commission’s Website: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs. Filers should follow the instructions on the Website for submitting comments. For ECFS filers, in completing the transmittal screen, filers should include their full name, US Postal Service mailing address, and CG Docket No. 02-278.
Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first class or overnight US Postal Service mail (although the Commission continues to experience delays in receiving US Postal Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 455 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554. For further information contact Kristi Thornton, Consumer Policy Division, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, FCC, 455 12th Street, SW, Washington DC 20554 or by email at: Kristi.Thornton@fcc.gov.