The NAD and other consumer advocacy group representatives have been meeting with relay service providers and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address concerns about IP Relay misuse, fraud, and scams. IP Relay is misused by people who are not deaf or hard of hearing. Those people use IP Relay to engage in fraudulent and scam business transactions. We have been trying to find ways to reduce or eliminate IP Relay misuse, fraud, and scams, but the issues are complex. For example, the deaf and hard of hearing community may be willing to consider registering for IP Relay services, but someone first needs to identify a registration system that would be centralized, relatively convenient for relay users, and, most importantly, effectively reduce or eliminate IP Relay misuse, fraud, and scams. No such registration system exists today.
On January 26, 2006, we met with United States Senate staff members who were interested to learn more about Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS). TRS is intended to provide functionally equivalent telecommunication services for members of the deaf and hard of hearing community, as well as for people with speech disabilities. Today, TRS enables communication with telephone users through the use of TTYs and through the Internet via computers, videophones, and mobile devices. We also talked about IP Relay misuse, fraud, and scams. We believe actual or reported IP Relay misuse, fraud, and scams hurt the deaf and hard of hearing community. Many businesses refuse to conduct any business with anyone who calls through any relay service (TTY, IP Relay, Video Relay Services, and others). Businesses discriminate against deaf and hard of hearing consumers when they do not accept relay calls. We believe refusing to accept a relay call violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).All things considered, we are convinced that outreach efforts must be made to inform and educate businesses about fraud and scam prevention, the importance and benefits of TRS, and the ADA legal obligation to conduct business with consumers who use relay services. We will be meeting again with the FCC to discuss ways to raise awareness in the business community about IP Relay misuse, fraud, and scams, and advise the business community not to hang up on legitimate relay calls. We expect that FCC outreach efforts will be joined by and collaborated with other agencies that provide information, education, and outreach to businesses about fraud and scam prevention (i.e., Federal Trade Commission, Small Business Administration, etc.), TRS, and the ADA (i.e., U.S. Department of Justice).
For to see the actual website with what I just posted, go to http://blogs.nad.org/advocacy/?p=33.