Consumers beware – House proposal would make nuisance phone calls the new norm!

Hate those annoying, usually dinner time, phone calls with a long pause where it seems like there’s no one at the other end?  Then, just before you hang up, you hear the robo-voice on the other end.  A new House proposal – HR 3035 – will likely make this the new norm for consumer cell phones.
 
A coalition of debt collectors, the U.S. Chamber and other anti-consumer groups have obtained Congressional support for a dangerous proposal that would allow debt collectors and other businesses to flood cell phones with robo-calls.  The bill, HR 3035 Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011, will be the subject of a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing this coming Friday, November 4, 2011 at 9:00am.  The bill’s sponsors are Congressmen Lee Terry (R-NE) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY).  

“Consumers already receive important notifications about data breaches, fraud alerts and flight cancellations when they consent to receive this information” says Delicia Reynolds, Legislative Director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.  “HR 3035 will remove a consumer’s ability to choose what calls they would like to receive and plunge consumers back into daily deluges of robo calls from debt collectors, market research and survey calls among other kinds of calls; but, now on their cell phones.” says Reynolds. 

HR 3035 will allow businesses with to use predictive dialers to and will shift the costs of ads, surveys and other annoying calls to consumers.   Consumers will no longer be able to opt out of receiving calls because HR 3035 would make ‘any prior relationship’ with a business would qualify as consent for the purposes of receiving a so-called ‘informational phone call.’  

“This bill, if enacted, would also facilitate a proposal found in the Administration’s recent deficit reduction plan which would make it easier for private debt collectors to call the cell phones of consumers delinquent on student loans and debt owed the federal government.  Debt collectors already have sufficient access to consumers and still frequently violate the law by repeatedly making collection calls to consumer cellular phones using automatic dialing systems and leaving prerecorded voicemail messages, in violation of the law.[1]” 

“HR 3035 is a terrible idea,” said Reynolds, “cell phones are uniquely personal devices; consumers, struggling to make ends meet and keep their jobs, would prefer to spend these valuable minutes on their family and friends.”

For more information contact Delicia Reynolds of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, 202-452-1989 ext 103, Delicia@naca.net. The National Association of Consumer Advocates recently sent a letter opposing HR 3035 to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  For more information on debt collection abuse and protections available to consumers, visit http://www.naca.net/issues/debt-collection-abuse.

Written by Delicia Reynolds, Legislative Director, National Association of Consumer Advocates