Ringless Voicemails Fall Under Robocall Umbrella

By Greg Tavarez, TMCnet Editor  |  December 02, 2022

Ringless voicemails, or audio messages sent directly to a voicemail inbox without the phone ringing, may be beneficial for businesses. The sales process is sped up, and sales teams receive more time to invest into their leads. It all happens without the business or the customer having to pick up the phone.

Still, these are a form of robocall, as confirmed by the Federal Communications Commission, and are an annoyance to consumers who do not want them. Think about it. Voicemails that pile up in their voicemail inbox mean the consumer must go through the process of logging into the inbox and deleting the voicemails one at a time. This is a time waster.

There’s also the dark side to ringless voicemail. Just as our phones ring off the hook with countless scams and other unwanted solicitations, ringless voicemail is also being uses by scammers to try to convince unsuspecting victims to return calls. It saves scammers time, too, and probably increases their success rate with people who do call them back.

The FCC (News - Alert) is serious about limiting the amount of robocalls – especially those unwanted ones. Look at the STIR/SHAKEN protocol and how it’s supposed to help identify legitimate callers and reduce unwanted communication. Now, callers are required by the FCC, in a unanimous decision, to obtain a consumer’s consent before delivering ringless voicemails.

The FCC’s decision means that ringless voicemails are treated no differently than text messages or voice calls for purposes of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. With this ruling, leaving ringless voicemails without having prior consent is illegal. Violations are enforced by the FCC or sent to court by the consumer.

“We’re taking action to ensure these deceptive practices don’t find a way around our robocall rules and into consumers’ inboxes,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. 

The ruling, now in effect, means that the FCC denies a petition filed by All About the Message, which asked the FCC to find that delivery of a message directly to a consumer’s cellphone voicemail is not a call protected by the TCPA.  

The FCC continues to remain consistent with its mission on limiting the amount of robocalls, no matter the form, that reaches U.S. consumers.

Edited by Erik Linask