FCC Declares Ringless Voicemails Illegal Without Consent

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Ringless voicemails are a popular marketing trick, whereby a caller can use a service to leave voicemail messages directly on a prospect or client’s mobile phone without the phone ringing. Several firms have perfected and pushed this marketing ploy over the years.

I always felt it was a bit sketchy, and while I was intrigued by the possibilities, I felt it was just a stunt and not a worthwhile technique.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently clarified that callers must obtain a consumer’s consent before delivering a “ringless voicemail.” The unanimous decision by the full Commission finds that ringless voicemails are, in fact, “calls” that require consumers’ prior express consent.

This is similar to the requirements for sending a text message. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which protects consumers from unwanted robocalls, prohibits making any non-emergency call using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or pre-recorded voice to a wireless telephone number without the prior express consent of the called party. In the new ruling, the Commission clarified that ringless voicemail is a form of robocall and is illegal if the caller did not have the consumer’s prior express consent. The FCC can enforce any violations or the consumer can sue in court.

If this trick is part of your marketing plan, you should stop using it immediately. If you want to use it with clients, then you need to update your client communication agreement to include ringless voicemail specifically.

If you’re interested in reading the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling and Order, check it out here.

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