The FCC is cracking down on spam robocalls that use a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers to skirt regulation.
Eight years ago the FCC loosened the requirements for VoIP providers to gain access to phone numbers. The decision, unfortunately, opened the door for robocallers to easily acquire numbers that could be used for spoofing and scam calls.
The FCC is now addressing the issue, making it harder for VoIP providers to gain access to numbers, according to an agency release:
In 2021, following the directives of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, the Commission sought comment on strengthening its direct access rules to reduce access to numbers by potential perpetrators of illegal robocalls and address problems that have arisen from the growth of widely available VoIP software. This VoIP technology can allow bad actors to make spoofed robocalls with minimal technical experience and cost. Today’s action, consistent with the TRACED Act, will require applicants to submit additional disclosures and certifications regarding their ownership structures and compliance with the Commission’s rules and state law and takes targeted steps to address the concerns raised in the 2021 rulemaking. These rules will require applicants seeking direct access to numbering resources to:
- Make robocall-related certifications to help ensure compliance with the Commission’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 Commission 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; and
- Comply with state laws and registration requirements that are applicable to businesses in each state in which numbers are requested.
Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel emphasized the benefits of the change, including protecting consumers from scam calls:
“We are putting conditions on direct access to numbering resources to make sure we do not hand out numbers to perpetrators of illegal robocalls,” said Rosenworcel. ” This will safeguard our numbering resources, make life harder for those who want to send us junk calls and a little easier for all of us who don’t like getting them.”