On January 30, 2024, AT&T announced a new feature aimed at reducing the number of unsolicited telemarketing calls delivered to its subscribers. AT&T is teaming up with TransUnion, a credit reporting company, to roll out this new feature. To participate, businesses must sign up for TruContact Branded Call Display ("TBCD") through TransUnion. Following sign-up, all calls placed by such businesses will go through the same anti-spoofing protocols that the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") has mandated that carriers implement, called the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited ("STIR") and Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs ("SHAKEN") protocol.

A TransUnion survey found that 73% of consumers have declined to answer a phone call in the past due to safety and/or fraud concerns, only to learn after the fact that it was a legitimate call. The TBCD feature, designed to stop "spam" and "scam" telemarketing calls, will automatically go into effect for Android users. Apple users must ensure that their phones are either unlocked or allow for facial recognition for the technology to work. The feature removes the need for consumers to download a separate application. Upon receiving a call, the business name and logo will appear on the caller ID screen for all AT&T customers – in essence, validating that such call is legitimate and should be answered.

AT&T is not the first carrier to implement such a feature. In 2022, T-Mobile introduced a similar program to verify the origin of calls for purposes of reducing unsolicited telemarketing calls.

Impact on Unsolicited Telemarketing Calls

While AT&T makes no promises that this new feature will eliminate all unsolicited telemarketing calls, it does promise to reduce the number of such calls that consumers receive.

This announcement is one that is good for both consumers and the telemarketing industry. We note that this new feature is only aimed at preventing non-compliant telemarketing calls, not all telemarketing calls. Calls placed in compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA") and applicable state telemarketing statutes, will continue to be delivered to consumers.

One thing that remains to be seen is whether the increased use of artificial intelligence ("AI") in the industry will impact this new attempt at reducing the number of unsolicited telemarketing calls.

As businesses try to keep up with evolving FCC telemarketing regulations, it is important to retain experienced counsel to ensure that their calls continue to reach intended consumers and are not blocked as spam.

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Newly Adopted FCC TCPA Consent Rules Set to Change the Telemarketing Industry

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