FCC Takes Aim At Ringless Voicemail Robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking aim at ringless voicemail robocalls, with a new proposal submitted by Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel this week. The proposal escalates the agency's multi-year battle against spam and robocalls, a battle that's seen relatively limited success thus far. The efforts have included requiring carriers to combat unwanted automated calls on their networks, supporting the use of the STIR/SHAKEN protocol, and even threatening to block carriers that profit from robocalls. 

In spite of these measures, according to the YouMail RoboCall Index, Americans were still subjected to more than 50 billion such calls in 2021 alone. The FCC's latest step is to combat a specific type of robocall, the ringless voicemail, citing convenience and fraud concerns.

The Plague Of Ringless Voicemail Robocalls

Ringless voicemails are a method telemarketers and spammers use to deposit a recorded message in a recipients voicemail without their phone ringing. Between a person being confused at seemingly missing a call, and the ability to tailor a recording to the accent of the region being targeted, this type of robocall has proven quite effective.

Unfortunately, ringless voicemails still present a significant level of annoyance, and can cause serious problems. For example, voicemail inboxes can quickly become filled up with these robocall messages, causing important voicemails to be lost.

Chairwoman Rosenworcel is proposing that these types of robocalls be subject to the same rules governing other forms. This would ensure that callers obtain the consumer's consent before leaving a ringless voicemail.

"Ringless voicemail can be annoying, invasive, and can lead to fraud like other robocalls—so it should face the same consumer protection rules," said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. "No one wants to wade through voicemail spam, or miss important messages because their mailbox is full. This FCC action would continue to empower consumers to choose which parties they give permission to contact them."