As an independent agency of the U. S. government, the FCC is responsible for supervising and regulating the phone, radio, and television industries. This includes all interstate wire, cable, and satellite transmissions as well as any international transmissions that originate or end in the United States.
The everyday citizen pays their taxes which, in turn, funds agencies such as the FCC. The actual benefits to consumers of this agency are wide ranged. The FCC ensures that, during times of crisis, emergency personnel are able to communicate with one another. It enacts and enforces regulations fostering local competition, public safety, and consumer protection. In order to provide the highest level of service, the commission is divided into seven bureaus which are supported by ten staff offices.
The agency’s seven bureaus handle complaints, develop regulations, process and issue license applications, participate in hearings, and conduct investigations. These bureaus are Consumer and Governmental Affairs, Enforcement, International, Media, Wireless Telecommunications, Wireline Competition, and Public Safety and Homeland Security. The ten supporting offices are Office of Administrative Law Judges, Office of Communications Business Opportunities, Office of Engineering and Technology, Office of General Counsel, Office of Inspector General, Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Managing Director, Office of Media Relations, Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, and the Office of Workplace Diversity.
Bothersome, fraudulent, and scamming calls are a concern to all consumers. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), one regulation enacted by the FCC to protect consumers, prohibits unsolicited non-emergency calls and texts to wireless devices made by automatic telephone dialing systems or “robo” dialers. These calls are permitted only when express consent has been given by the consumer. Telemarketers must obtain written consent from the consumer prior to making calls to any landline or cellular number. The Wireless Telephone Protection Act protects against unauthorized use, tampering or manipulation of a cellular phone or service.
The FCC provides several ways to lodge a complaint about suspected fraud, “scammers”, annoying and unwanted calls, possible deceptive and unfair business practices, and other media related dissatisfaction. The Consumer Help Center, the FCC’s Zendesk Support, went on-line in 2015 and seventy-five agents field one and a half to two thousand complaints a day. Consumers can view the status of their complaint online and the time-to-resolution has decreased overall by up to ten days. You can also file a complaint by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Internet (Consumer Complaint Center), or telephone (888-CALL-FCC [888-225-5322]). An additional tip suggested by the FCC is for consumers to register their phone number(s) on the FCC’s Do Not Call Registry. To register by telephone, call 1-888-382-1222 (1-866-290-4236 TTY). You may also register online at www.donotcall.gov.
Complaints are welcomed by the FCC as they provide a way to track and trend the issues that matter the most on a national level. By voicing their concerns, consumers contribute to federal enforcement and protection.