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FCC ruling could allow marketing calls to go straight to your voicemail

Robocalls to voicemail
Companies want robocalls to go straight to your voicemail 02:01

NEW YORK -- Marketing calls usually make your cellphone ring, but if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules in the companies' favor, those credit card, financing and debt collection calls could legally go straight to your voicemail box in unlimited numbers.

Josh Justice, CEO of ringless voiceless software firm Stratics Networks, says that's a good thing.  

"You sit down for dinner with your family and your phone rings, you go to put your baby to bed and your phone rings and you're being solicited something," Justice said. "A ringless voicemail drops is a nonintrusive alternative to this robocall."

Josh Justice CBS News

The companies are arguing to the FCC that since the phone never actually "rings," their ringless voicemails should not be regulated by the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a move supported by the Republican National Committee, which said regulating the practice might affect political outreach campaigns.

Consumer advocates, like Margot Saunders with the National Consumer Law Center, say that not regulating would be the "wrong call."

Margot Saunders CBS News

"That's even more invasive, more time consuming and more annoying in some ways than a standard phone call," Saunders told CBS News.

"They want to be able to reach us and they want to be able to reach us without consent," she added. "They want to be able to reach us without our telling them, stop!"

The FCC does not comment on open petitions, but chairman Ajit Pai told us recently about robocalls in general.

"This is the number one source of consumer complaints to the FCC. It dwarfs anything else that we get."

You can give the FCC your thoughts, but Friday is the last day for public comment. Click here to find out more on how to submit your comments.

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