Have you noticed an upswing in the number of robocalls you've been receiving lately?
Well, it's only going to get worse.
Robocalls are automatic recorded calls usually advertising some good or service — a home security system perhaps or an extended car warranty. They can be couched as contest winnings or even calls from some official government agency.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 was supposed to afford some protection against these nuisances. Though passed in the dark ages of landlines, it prohibited automated, artificial or recorded voice calls to any line a consumer is charged for, including cellphones. It also limits the hours solicitors can call home phones and requires they not only honor the federal Do Not Call Registry but refrain from calling anyone who asks them not to do so, among other provisions.
Well, last week the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the TCPA, ruling the law only applies to automated calling system that generate (and store for future use) telephone numbers at random, not those that use actual lists of consumer phone numbers that many companies buy and sell.
Basically, if you end up on such a list, then you're fair game for the robocallers.
Fraudulent calls are still illegal, but they didn't follow the rules anyway. Now, though, legitimate companies can take advantage of the court's ruling to flood your phone.
The court's unanimous ruling held that Congress wasn't clear on the definition of automated calling in the original law. So that means Congress needs to take care of this with new, more specific legislation. And soon.