Robo-Calling and the ARM Industry: An Open Letter to the FCC

An Open Letter to FCC Commissioners Wheeler, Clyburn, and Rosenworcel:

I watched with a great deal of interest the June 18, 2015, FCC hearing where you trumpeted new TCPA Rules. I then reviewed the 13 page Declaratory Ruling and Order that was released on July 10. Since then I have read just about every article, blog, or opinion on the Ruling. I have also reviewed the pleadings in the various appeals of the ruling. 

During the hearing all three of you went to great lengths to tell the world that these rules were designed to put an end to “Robo-Calling”. That term makes a great soundbite.  It is also fans the flames to bolster your argument for the new rules.

Unfortunately, you have completely missed the mark. In your desire to end “robo-calling” you have dramatically injured and hindered many legitimate businesses, including every legitimate company in the ARM industry.

Worse, and I hate to break this to you, but robo-calling by thieves, scam artists and criminal enterprises continues. Your new rule has done nothing to stem that tide and will do nothing in the future to reduce those calls. Let me break it to you gently. Those calls will continue. Criminal and thieves break the laws. That is why they are called criminals and thieves.

As of January 1 of this year I work out of my home office. For my entire prior working career I have worked in a traditional office setting.  Moving to a home office environment has been an absolute eye opener for me. The sheer amount of “telemarketing” and scam artists calls to my home office phone on a daily basis is staggering. These are calls I would refer to as “robo-calls”. I have no prior relationship with the caller or the subject of the call. The caller is randomly calling a list of phone numbers. (BTW, this is NOT what a legitimate ARM company does.) These calls come despite the fact that I am on the national “Do Not Call” registry.

Just a few of my favorites:

Rachel from Cardmember services” has been replaced by another name and tagline, but the same type of calls continue. This is my last chance to lower the interest rate on my credit cards. 

Just yesterday I received a call from “Dennis Gray from the U.S. Treasury Department”  “Dennis” wanted me to call him back before the Sheriff, Police Department , FBI and every famous movie cop knocked on door to arrest me. (BTW, this scam is particularly despicable. It preys upon those not savvy enough to recognize the absurdity of the call.) 

One of my other favorite scam artist calls in from the “Windows Help Desk”.  They want to help me with my computer viruses.  All I need to do is give them access to my system. 

Finally, I get the “Senior Alert” calls at least once a day. Fortunately I do not yet have a need for the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up device” even though my doctor has already authorized it for me.

These calls are typically made from individuals and entities outside the United States. The phone number on the caller ID is spoofed. They are not going to stop calling.

Meanwhile, legitimate ARM businesses are in full-fledged scramble mode trying to comply with your draconian Declaratory Order. The TCPA was designed to limit telemarketers, not companies with legitimate business reasons to contact consumers over a prior business relationship.

On the bright side, you have given predatory consumer and defense lawyers a retirement plan.  TCPA lawsuits will keep them happy for years to come.

By Tim Bauer