Collector- June 2018 - 19

call-blocking apps as well as blocking and
labeling at the carrier level.
The Federal Communications
Commission allows telecom providers to
block calls both upon consumer request as
well as those from spoofed and unassigned
phone numbers. However, it's not yet a
free-for-all; the FCC cautioned that blocking
calls outside of the parameters it has set may
violate the Communications Act.
Josh Stevens, senior associate for
Mac Murray & Shuster LLP, has worked
alongside the Professional Association for
Customer Engagement (PACE) to study
the problem since early 2017, when initial
reports of call blocking first started to
trickle in.
"I think that this issue is complex
because it involves everyone in the
telecommunication sphere," he said.
"Carriers, tech providers, people who
need to make calls, people who get calls,
consumer groups-it touches everyone."
And obviously when that many groups
are impacted, everyone has their own
perspective on what should-and should
not-be done, generating a lot of back and
forth conversation, hopeful proposals, failed
proposals and frustration on all sides.
"I think there's also a public perception
that what the collection industry and the
consumer contact industry are trying to
achieve is the ability to just blast consumers
all the time with messages, and that's not the
goal," Stevens said. "The goal is to be able
to communicate with consumers within
the bounds of the law and to maintain the
integrity of the telephone network and access
to the telephone network for those lawful
communications. And I don't know that that
message has really gotten out."
Maria Wolvin, ACA's former vice
president and senior counsel, regulatory
affairs, pointed out that robocalls are such
a hot-button issue that FCC Chairman Ajit
Pai has made thwarting illegal robocalls his
number-one consumer protection priority.
"However, the eagerness to find solutions
to this problem has led to implementation
of call blocking and labeling tools in the
marketplace without sufficient regard

COLLECTOR 06.18

80%

Of ACA members who have had
their calls improperly blocked or
labeled are small businesses.
Source: ACA International

for how these tools could interfere with
legitimate business communications,"
Wolvin said. "As a result, legitimate
businesses who rely on consumer
communication are being substantially
harmed without any clear recourse."
That's why companies like RBC Inc.
and Team Recovery are seeing their lawful
communications with consumers labeled as
scams or even blocked outright.
Wolvin noted that although the FCC
has been mainly focused on call blocking
technology, ACA has advocated for relief
in the labeling context as well, which raises
similar issues and exposes businesses

"I think that this issue
is complex because it
involves everyone in
the telecommunication
sphere."

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