Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took additional steps to implement the various mandates in the TRACED Act (discussed here and here), which was enacted late last year to help combat illegal robocalls.  Specifically, the FCC yesterday released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks comment on how best to eliminate “one-ring scams.”  Included in the NPRM is a proposed rule that would permit voice service providers to block callers suspected of transmitting such scam calls.

The TRACED Act and the FCC define a one-ring scam as “a scam in which a caller makes a call and allows the call to ring the called party for a short duration, in order to prompt the called party to return the call, thereby subjecting the called party to charges.”  Typically, these calls originate outside of the U.S., and when the recipient calls the number back the initial caller receives a portion of the fees charged to that recipient.

The TRACED Act directs the FCC to initiate a proceeding to protect called parties from one-ring scams.  In furtherance of that statutory mandate, the NPRM seeks comment on how the FCC can protect called parties from such scams.  Generally, the NPRM limits itself to asking questions about various possible approaches that the FCC should consider—e.g., increasing cooperation with other government agencies, or improving consumer education.  However, the NPRM also proposes a rule that would allow a voice service provider to block all calls from phone numbers “highly likely to be associated” with a one-ring scam.  The NPRM does not provide guidance on how this determination would be made.

Comments will be due 30 days after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 45 days after publication.