Phone Call

The FCC this week adopted rules to reduce robocalls by “strengthening and modernizing” the way in which VoIP providers obtain direct access telephone numbers.

The FCC says that the steps also will protect national security and law enforcement, reduce stress on the nation’s numbering resources, reduce regulatory arbitrage and promote public safety.

In 2021, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act mandated that the FCC seek comment on strengthening rules to make it harder for robocallers to gain access to numbers and to address the ease and low cost of using common VoIP software to make spoofed robocalls.

Under the rules, applicants are required to:

  • Make robocall-related certifications to help ensure compliance with the FCC’s rules targeting illegal robocalls;
  • Disclose and keep current information about their ownership, including foreign ownership, to mitigate the risk of providing bad actors abroad with access to U.S. numbering resources;
  • Certify to their compliance with other FCC rules applicable to interconnected VoIP providers, including certain public safety and access stimulation rules and requirements to submit timely FCC Forms 477 and 499 filings;
  • Comply with state laws and registration requirements that are applicable to businesses in each state in which numbers are requested.

The rules codify the FCC’s direct access application review, application rejection and authorization revocation processes. The rules direct the North American Numbering Council to study number use, resale and reclamation, and seek comment on proposals to further increase FCC oversight of entities with access to numbers, including those gaining access indirectly.

Robocalls have been trending downward. However, last month there was a five percent increase to 5.4 billion, according to Robokiller Insights. The leading purveyors were those related to financial services, debt collection, medical scams and loans.

At least one entity may be out of luck. Earlier this week One Owl Telecom hadn’t complied with robocaller rules. The company allegedly operated as a gateway provider for international robocalls.  The initial determination order against One Owl puts it a step closer to mandatory blocking from other providers. It predecessor entity, One Eye, had been blocked in this way.

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