FCC: All About the FCC

How to File a Complaint

When communications are harassing homes and businesses, the FCC allows you to file formal complaints. There are several ways to file a complaint with the FCC:

  • Online
  • Over the Phone
  • Snail Mail
  • Fax
  • Email

The FCC asks you to answer a series of questions online to determine which complaint form suits your complaint. For example, say you have a telemarketing complaint. To file the complaint, you’d go to the FCC website and select “file a complaint.”

Once you select telemarketing and click next, it gives you 7 options of complaints to choose from: prerecorded messages received on your home telephone, unwanted/unsolicited telemarketing calls and abandoned/silent calls.

You select the most applicable statement to your complaint. The FCC website will then tell you what form you need to fill out and you can submit the form right away.

Check out this FCC flow chart to see how your complaint is handled by the FCC.

Who is the FCC?

The FCC is the Federal Communications Commission and they regulate national and international communications in the United States. The FCC was created by the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure that the communications market remains competitive and to handle communications regulation along with a variety of other tasks. The FCC is an independent government agency, overseen by Congress.


Who’s in charge of the FCC?

The FCC is made up of 5 commissioners appointed by the US president. These commissioners must be approved by Senate. Only 3 commissioners can be of the same political party at any given time, ensuring the FCC is a bipartisan effort. None of the commissioners can have a financial interest in any FCC-related business. They are appointed to 5-year terms.


What does the FCC do?

The FCC does a variety of jobs in relation to the communications market.

For one, they develop and manage regulatory programs. Over time, regulations change to accommodate new technologies and the FCC adapt their regulatory programs to include the technology (lately, they’ve been dealing with the Internet and VoIP).

The FCC also processes many different types of paper applications, including radio operator and repair/maintenance licensing, complaint forms and public comment on FCC proceedings. They also analyze and investigate complaints received from the public. The FCC is also responsible for Homeland Security, as far as communications are concerned.


What is a legitimate complaint to the FCC?

The FCC handles a variety of complaints on issues that matter to the general public as well as businesses.

Telemarketing calls

Include receiving abandoned/silent, live or prerecorded telemarketing calls on residential, business or toll free phone numbers, despite being on the do not call list, which is managed by the FCC and Federal Trade Commission.

Junk Fax

Unwanted faxes received at your home or business.

Disability access to communications

Includes closed captioning, Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS), availability of communications services for those with disabilities, hearing aid compatibility and emergency broadcast information.

Broadcast issues

Includes obscene or indecent programs, unlawful or illegal advertising, disability access, emergency alerts, unauthorized/unfair/biased/illegal broadcasts, cable modem or signal issues, and DTV issues.

Tower light outages/signal interference

Includes tower light outages such as on radio towers, hindrance to a public safety service or device by a communications service or device, problems completing 911 calls, cell phone, GPS, and wi-fi jammers, and other jammers.

Wired and wireless telephone service

Includes "slamming," which occurs when your authorized wireline telephone company for local, local toll or long distance service is switched without your permission, telemarketing (including Do-Not-Call), prerecorded messages, billing, service, privacy, identity theft, disability access, number portability, and unlawful advertising

Broadband connection and VoIP

Includes unsolicited emails on cellular phone, billing, service, availability, number portability, unlawful advertising, disability access, and 911 calls.

About the Author: 
Jennifer Simpson is a recent journalism graduate from Carleton University. She spends her free time playing with her two golden retrievers and reading.