Robocallers are coming after your cellphone

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
By Herb Weisbaum

As if "robocalls" aren't annoying enough, companies want to change the law so it's legal to make them to your cellphone.

So-called "robocalls" are when a business uses a computer to automatically dial phone numbers. When you pick, up a pre-recorded message plays. Under a 1991 Federal Act, it's against the law to make these calls to cellphones without the recipient's okay. 

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

Since it's pretty hard to get someone to agree to have robots call them, the nation’s bankers have asked the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to change the rules to allow them to robocall their customers. 

In some cases, without their prior consent.

Win McNamee / Today

They also want to be exempt from legal action if they robocall the wrong number by mistake. 

This has got consumer groups buzzing with anger so more than 75 of them sent a letter to the FCC Wednesday telling them to "hang up" on this proposal.

The National Consumer Law Center called it an attempt to “weaken the law” and “gut basic privacy rights.”

But the bankers say they've got their reasons, and they're looking out for their customers.

The American Bankers Association petition says they wants the ability to use robocalls to alert customers to possible fraud, identity theft or a breach of personal information, advise them of ways to deal with a data breach or provide instructions on how to receive a pending money transfer. The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) says they want to be let off the hook if a robocall is made to the wrong cellphone number by mistake. In its petition, the CBA says phone numbers are constantly reassigned.

Consumer advocates told the FCC these wrong number calls to reassigned numbers “are largely the result of inadequate calling practices and a pervasive environment of industry indifference.”