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PayPal reverses course on robocall policy

PayPal reversed course on its robocalling policy after the Federal Communications Commission and a number of lawmakers took the company to task.

The e-payment company, which is being spun off from eBay, caught a lot of heat earlier this month from the Federal Communications Commission and a number of lawmakers for changes in its user agreement that would have forced users to receive robocalls and text messages without the ability to opt-out.

PayPal said Thursday in a blog post that it never meant to change the policy the way it was being interpreted, chalking up the earlier communications with users to “confusing language” in the user agreement.

“The new language is intended to make it clear that PayPal primarily uses autodialed or prerecorded calls and texts to: help detect, investigate and protect our customers from fraud; Provide notices to our customers regarding their accounts or account activity; collect a debt owed to us,” the company said, adding that it had been working with regulators to clear up the confusion.

PayPal clarified in the post that it wouldn’t use autodialed or prerecorded calls or texts to contact customers without prior written consent (a requirement of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act) and that customers could still use its services even if they don’t provide consent.

The Federal Communications Commission, which sent a letter to PayPal warning the company it may be in violation of federal laws, seemed satisfied with PayPal’s new wording.

“I commend PayPal for taking steps to honor consumer choices to be free from unwanted calls and texts…. These changes, along with PayPal’s commitments to improve its disclosures and make it easier for consumers to express their calling preferences, are significant and welcome improvements,” said Travis LeBlanc, the FCC’s enforcement chief.

Lawmakers said they hoped that PayPal would serve as an example to other companies.

““I applaud PayPal for reversing course and recognizing that consumers have the right to say no to intrusive robocalls or robotexts,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), one of four Democratic Senators that sent a letter to PayPal. “I hope this reversal sends a clear message to other companies – consumers should not have to agree to submit to intrusive robocalls in orders to use a company’s service.”

The FCC recently tightened the TCPA rules to give consumers even more control over how companies may contact them on mobile devices.