Federal Communications Commission limits robo-calls

The Federal Communications Commission today announced stricter rules limiting autodialed or prerecorded marketing calls known as "robo-calls,” Reuters reported.

The Federal Trade Commission’s “Do Not Call” phone number registry, which Congress made permanent in 2008, was intended to help customers stop unsolicited calls from telemarketers, USA Today reported. However, some companies have used loopholes in the law to continue calling.

"Consumers have complained to us by the thousands about annoying robo-calls,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said during the agency's monthly open meeting, according to Reuters. “We're closing loopholes that have allowed robo-callers to sneak through.”

Under the new FCC rules, telemarketers for banks, insurance agents and others must obtain prior written consent before placing robo-calls to consumers, even if they have an “established business relationship” with them, the Los Angeles Times reported. Telemarketers must also give consumers an automated, interactive way to opt-out during each robo-call.

The new rules also require robo-callers to reduce the number of “dead-air calls,” when consumers pick up and hear nothing on the other end of the line, the LA Times reported. (If a customer hears silence when they pick up the phone, it’s often because there's no live representative available to chat, USA Today explained.)

According to USA Today:

Not covered by the new rules: robo-calls from schools and other non-profit organizations and political groups, because they are considered informational. Those calls cannot be made without consent to wireless phones, however.

Robo-calls that inform listeners about school closings, flight changes and prescription refills will also continue to be permitted, Reuters reported.

More from GlobalPost: FCC eliminates the "fairness doctrine"

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