My phone didn’t ring. Who left a message?

There’s a new technology game in town, but nobody wants to play it. It’s called “leave me a message but don’t call me”. Big business and ringless voicemail providers love it. Consumers? Not so much. The technology is called ringless voicemail and it’s being used by debt collectors and telemarketers around the country to reach the masses. Unfortunately, consumers could be powerless to stop it.

Federal regulators, who are considering whether or not to ban these “instant” messages, are being pushed by pro-business and ringless voicemail providers to be exempt from consumer protection laws, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 which prohibits calling cellular phones with automated dialing and artificial or prerecorded voices without first obtaining consent — except in an emergency.

Fortunately, consumers along with their attorneys are vehemently against this exemption, stating that voicemail boxes could be flooded with messages making it nearly impossible to discern “junk” voicemail messages from important ones, including the one from your child’s school or from your elderly parent. Even worse? If allowed, debt collectors could leave a barrage of collection messages on a consumer’s voice mail and consumers would be powerless to stop them.

To make matters worse, even consumers on the “Do Not Call” list could potentially be barraged with unwanted messages since these ringless messages may not be considered calls. If these messages are not “calls”, then “Do Not Call” Registry would not apply, thereby allowing free will to an endless supply of messages from company after company.

Seems hopeless? Not yet. There is the chance to stop them but we need your help.The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is now collecting public comments (instructions below)on this vital issue. It is important that we come together and publicly comment against ringless voicemail. The alternative? Debt collectors and telemarketers will be legally permitted to release a litany of “non-calls” to consumers, flood our voicemail boxes with unlimited messages, and our ability to stop them could be hindered forever.

To Make Your Voice Heard…

To comment, click on “Express” under Filters. Enter Docket #02-278. Then, enter in your name and address and make your comment.