Enhancing Your Contact Center Operations Part 2

By Stuart Discount

In the first part of “Enhancing Your Contact Center Operations,” I outlined some of the benefits of being a PACE member.  With the ever-changing landscape of the contact center industry, it is vital that we are all compliant, that we understand data privacy and we adhere to the rules and regulations of our trade.

But data privacy education isn’t the only education our association provides.  We help our members work within guidelines and be a part of the law-making process.  We are on the right side of the issues impacting our field and the customers we serve.
In the second part of my three-part series, I address robocalls and what we at PACE are doing to protect our members’ rights and ensure they are legally and ethically reaching out to their customers and prospects.

Part 2 - Robocalls
Robocalls — those nettlesome autodial telephone calls from both scammers and legitimate businesses — skyrocketed in the first half of 2018, and have prompted the most complaints to federal and most state enforcement officials of any consumer topic in recent years.
But as much as top state law enforcement officers would love to go after the robocallers, who often operate outside the law, the combined hurdles of technology, economics and geography make the job difficult.

The Senate held a hearing last month to find a way forward on cracking down on illegal robocalls, which plagues just about anyone with a phone. I was honored to provide testimony on this issue.

Telecom industry professionals called on lawmakers on the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet to pursue the criminal enforcement of robocalls in hopes of providing consumers some relief. 

The Federal Communications Commission says that Americans received 47.8 billion robocalls last year, and over 46 percent of them were from scammers. Robocalls, typically made to personal communication devices, use a computerized auto-dialing device to deliver a pre-recorded message, as if from a robot. The calls range from recordings claiming they're representatives from the IRS or debt collectors, to political and telemarketing phone campaigns. 

Often, calls appearing on Americans' phones appear to be familiar numbers, but they're in fact "spoof" calls that hide the real number calling in order to trick people into answering the call.

At PACE, we believe that illegal calls should stop before they reach the consumer because unlike legitimate callers, these nuisance callers aren’t deterred by the prospect of enforcement and are especially difficult to locate.

We advocate for enforcement and prosecution and are advocates for the organizations who are conducting business within legal and ethical guidelines.  We work with our members to ensure they are abiding by these guidelines to a) avoid fines and b) do business in a legitimate manner.

Why the rise in calls?
At the hearing, Margot Freeman Saunders, senior counsel for the National Consumer Law Center, testified that the majority of robocalls are made by major American corporations. 

"The majority of robocalls made every day to our home phones and our cell phones are not overt scam calls, but calls made by so-called 'legitimate businesses,'" Saunders said. Lawmakers are not considering legislation that would affect legal robocalls that fall into this category.  

Saunders explained that the volume of calls has been rising since a court decision in March 2018, which threw out the Obama-era FCC's 2015 rules that were meant to contain robocalls, ruling that its definition of auto-dialers was overly broad and could inadvertently apply to anyone with a smartphone. 
The court's decision was welcomed at the time by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who said that the FCC should be "targeting bad actors who bombard Americans with unlawful robocalls."

What Congress can do
Recently, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey co-sponsored the TRACED Act in order to crack down on scammers. The legislation, which passed the full committee, aims to give regulators "more time to find scammers, increases civil forfeiture penalties for those who are caught, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally flout laws."

The legislation would work to broaden the FCC's authority to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call by those "who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions," and it would also direct the FCC to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers using unauthenticated numbers. 

Meanwhile, the FCC said that it has taken on the challenge of combating robocalls by implementing policy and regulatory improvements in conjunction with public and private stakeholders.

At PACE we are at the forefront of legislation that directly impacts our customers. We have a seat at the table.  In turn, we understand the complex nature of our business and are able to educate our members on issues affecting them.  This helps ensure their positive standing in their industry and to the customers they serve.

In the final part of the Enhancing Your Contact Center Operations series, we’ll take a look at the benefits of engagement and support within our association and the contact center industry as a whole.
Read Part 3

Read Part 1