The battle against illegal and unethical robocalls continues to rage on. Powerful legislation, call center improvements, and sophisticated blocking apps have slowed but not stopped the onslaught of spam and scam calls and texts. Consumers have long been frustrated by what they see as a lack of progress, despite numerous FCC-led efforts. So what will 2024 offer to finally stop these costly and infuriating calls?
1. The Latest Advancements From CES
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is a powerful stage for technological advancement and annually highlights new devices, software, and industry strategies. This year, FCC officials and telecom industry members gathered to discuss how to strengthen their battle against robocalls, providing relief to weary consumers and help for legitimate call centers.
2. The Implementation of 2023 FCC Measures
The chief of the FCC’s Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau, Alejandro Roark, noted that U.S. consumers lost $790 million to scam robocallers in 2022. In addition, they reported $396 million in losses due to scam texts.
In response to this fraud, the FCC introduced new measures in 2023 to fight the scammers, including blocking call traffic from providers who ignored regulations and issuing enormous fines to those who violated the rules. Action was taken on the state level as well, with an almost unanimous agreement reached to collaborate with FCC robocall investigations.
The FCC took further action and instituted robotext rules for the first time, closing the lead generator loophole that let multiple marketers gain consumer information from a single consent. Now, all companies must gain affirmative consent before marketing to individuals, a huge victory for disheartened consumers.
3. AT&T’s Continued Efforts
AT&T is one of the most influential players in the telecom industry, so its participation in these efforts is essential to their success. At CES, the company reported that it has employed network filters to block likely illegal messages. In July 2023, the filters blocked one billion texts on AT&T networks, a hopeful sign of their effectiveness.
AT&T also touted its collaboration with manufacturers on enhanced spam reporting measures. They have developed features that allow consumers to report “junk” texts while deleting their messages.
4. Greater Collaboration
Currently, legislation and technology have failed to stop scammers and spammers. Critics of industry leaders wonder if they and the FCC can get this problem under control. Major telecom companies believe that they can through collaboration between the government and call providers. Until recently, they often did not work in tandem. Providers sometimes felt the government regulations were too harsh and difficult to implement. This conflict caused some delays in compliance.
At CES, Amanda Potter, assistant vice president and senior legal counsel for AT&T, announced that “Collaboration is key here.” The state agreements with the FCC are a prime example of this new emphasis on collaboration, which promises better results.
5. A Stronger FCC Position on Robo-Messages
In 2024, regulating text messaging will be a priority, although industry heads urge these measures be more flexible than those applied to voice calls. These calls are currently subjected to strict regulations, and providers cannot block them without action by the FCC. Potter wants to keep that protection for text messages, fearing the negative results of over-regulation.
The FCC is taking a stronger position on text messaging and has proposed stricter text authentication rules. It wants to require:
- More providers block texts flagged by the FCC.
- Instituting STIR/SHAKEN-like measures to identify and authenticate texters.
- Robotexts are rapidly taking the place of thwarted robocalls, so new measures are necessary.
6. FCC’s AI Investigation
The FCC will also investigate how AI is powering robocalls and robotexts and contributing to their success. It will also consider how the Commission can use AI tools to fight this negative use of powerful technology.
7. Congressional Intervention
In November 2023, the FCC asked Congress to allow the Commission to directly collect the robocall and text fines it imposes. This task has traditionally been assigned to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Changing the process should allow for speedier collections, which will have a greater impact on industry bad actors.
The FCC also requested access to more of these companies’ financial information to improve its robocall prevention success. This additional data will give the FCC much-needed ammunition to stop these scams before they harm consumers.
What Should Call Centers Look for in 2024?
Increased collaboration between the FCC and call traffic providers should help boost enforcement efforts and finally stop many of the scammers and spammers. Despite many regulations and advanced technology, robocallers have continued to thrive. Increased enforcement efforts along with provider cooperation and innovation may spark a significant improvement. Up to now, stopping illegal robocalls and texts has been like a game of Whack-A-Mole.
Everyone in the industry as well as consumers benefit when illegal robocallers and texters are shut down. They tarnish your call center’s image, limit your financial success, and harm millions of consumers, many of whom lose their hard-earned money to scammers. 2024 may be the year that these bad actors really begin to lose power.