Ringless Voicemails Will Be Banned Under New Anti-Robocall Rules

Ringless voicemails will be included in new U.S. anti-robocall rules being devised by the FCC after a plea to exempt them was withdrawn. A marketing company had been trying to convince the FCC that ringless voicemails shouldn’t be banned under the same legislation as regular robocalls.

The firm, called All About the Message, had petitioned the FCC to draft a ruling that would stop anti-robocall laws from applying to ringless voicemails. This would allow scammers to continue using the tactic to reach unwitting householders. Since ringless voicemails go straight to your inbox, they’re an effective way of forcing you to listen to the message.

The petition had called on the FCC not to classify ringless voicemails as a “call.” Since they don’t technically ring and aren’t answered by the householder, the company considered the voicemails to fall into a different kind of category. It was backed by the Republican National Committee but aggressively opposed by several consumer privacy advocacy groups.

As Ars Technica reports, All About the Message has now unexpectedly withdrawn its petition. Although the FCC hasn’t yet decisively ruled for or against its contents, the company wrote to the commission and said it will not be pursuing the matter further. It did not provide any reasoning for its U-turn and has avoided making public comments.

While the petition withdrawal means the status of ringless voicemails won’t now be changed, there have previously been similar motions seeking the same reclassification. The FCC’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act is unclear on how direct-to-voicemail services should be treated, a weakness that marketing firms have repeatedly tried to exploit to continue their robocalls.

For now, ringless voicemails will be governed by the FCC’s robocalling rules, a confirmation that should please most consumers. The commission’s website states that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act has a “crucial role” in helping citizens put an end to automated calls, text messages, and faxes. It ensures individuals have the powers necessary to avoid receiving robocalls and block them from ringing again if they do manage to break through.

Under the legislation, all non-emergency robocalls require permission from the homeowner before they can be made. These include telemarketing, informational, and political messages that formerly generated scores of complaints to the FCC each year. If you want to block robocalls from reaching your phone, you should visit the Do Not Call website to add your name to the list.

[Featured Image by iQoncept/Shutterstock]