The FCC recently issued citations to Dialing Services, LLC and Richard Gilmore (d/b/a Democratic Dialing) for placing unauthorized “robocalls” to wireless phones. A “robocall” is a call made using automated telephone dialing equipment (otherwise known as an “autodialer”) that uses an artificial or prerecorded voice. While the citations carry no penalties (monetary or other), they act as official notice to the companies that subsequent violations could lead to penalties of up to $16,000 per unauthorized call.
FCC rules generally prohibit prerecorded voice messages and autodialed calls made to cell phones and other mobile devices, unless the calls are made for emergency purposes, or are made with the called party’s prior express consent. Any permissible automated calls must contain the entity’s official business name as well as the telephone number of the dialing party.
Enforcement Bureau staff compared a list of numbers dialed by the companies with a commercially available list of mobile numbers and discovered that approximately 5.8 million calls were made to wireless numbers. Staff members contacted a portion of the wireless numbers called by the cited companies, and found that none of those called gave prior consent to receive the calls, and the automated calls did not convey any of the required contact information.
The citations provide a warning to all users of autodialers that the Enforcement Bureau stands ready to enforce its rules restricting autodialed and prerecorded calls. The citations make clear that the dialing party is ultimately liable for the calls it makes, including those made to phone numbers provided by clients. It is critical that any user of an autodialer compare client-provided phone numbers against commercially available lists of numbers that have been assigned or ported to wireless devices, to ensure that they are not making unauthorized calls in violation of Commission rules.
If you have any questions regarding the Commission’s rules for automated dialing services or any other concerns raised by the Citations, please contact the attorney assigned to your account.