The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau today proposed fines against a dozen telephone companies that apparently failed to submit timely phone number disconnection information to the Reassigned Numbers Database. 

The FCC established this database as a resource for lawful callers to avoid making unwanted and potentially illegal calls directed toward consumers whose numbers have been reassigned. 

People are assigned millions of phone numbers each month. When a previously assigned phone number is given to a new customer, businesses and other callers need to have access to the most complete, accurate, and up-to-date information to avoid making unwanted calls, the FCC said.  The database also helps the prior number holder who may not be receiving calls he or she expects, like notifications from a doctor’s office, financial institution, or school.

Under the regulator’s rules, every provider that obtains North American Numbering Plan U.S. geographic numbers must submit disconnection information for the database by the 15th of each month.

To encourage callers to use the database before making calls, the FCC established a safe harbor from liability for any calls to reassigned numbers caused by database errors.  The FCC also said it “recently took steps to make it more affordable and valuable for callers to access the database to reduce unwanted calls to consumers.”

The proposed actions against the 12 providers, formally called Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, or NALs, contain only allegations that advise a party on how it has apparently violated the law and may set forth a proposed monetary penalty.

Today’s actions are part of the regulator’s continuing campaign against illegal robocalls.

 “We are using every tool we can to combat illegal robocalls. For our efforts to be successful, carriers need to play their part and follow the rules,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a prepared statement. “When they fail to do so, we will not hesitate to act as these first-of-their-kind enforcement actions make abundantly clear.”

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