Currently, ringless voicemail is in the grey area because it is a new technology and it doesn’t make any calls to consumers. Theoretically, the law that would regulate it would be the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, but it currently doesn’t because, as explained above, ringless voicemail is not a call.
One of the biggest issues that could lead to the appearance of the regulations about the ringless voicemail has to do with their frequency. If it stays unregulated and more and more marketers use it, it can lead to a scenario in which people’s voicemails will be flooded with unwanted messages from marketers. This issue is very similar to the problem that led to the creation of the National Do Not Call Registry in June of 2003, which is a database of phone numbers managed by the United States federal government. The database consists of individuals and families who do not want marketers to contact them.
However, there is no similar law when it comes to direct mail, which means that it is possible that ringless voicemail marketing is here to stay.
With direct mail, there are several databases into which consumers can enter their names to prevent snail mail coming to them, including OptOutPrescreen.com, which is the official website of the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry. However, there is no one database or one law that prevents all marketers from sending unsolicited direct mail to consumers in the United States.
Current legal developments in regards to ringless voicemail marketing
As of June 2017, the Federal Communications Commission is collecting public comments on its website about the matter of ringless voicemail and it not being regulated by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. It promises to review the issue and consider a decision once the period for public comments closes. There is no formal timeline for the process and the commission doesn’t comment on pending issues. Obviously, there are comments and support for all kinds of action regarding ringless voicemail marketing.
Consumer advocates are warning that if the issue stays unregulated, debt collectors and other businesses could flood voice mailboxes with messages. Providers of ringless voicemail services and pro-business organizations argue that ringless voicemail doesn’t quality as calls covered by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 and should stay unregulated.