US regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled callers needed to obtain consumers’ permission to deliver direct voicemails without their phone ringing, in its latest effort to crack down on robocalls.

The FCC ruled sending voicemail directly to mobile phones required consent because they constitute a call made using an artificial or recorded voice and are therefore covered by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA.)

“Today we’re taking action to ensure these deceptive practices don’t find a way around our robocall rules and into consumers’ inboxes,” FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel stated.

She also noted direct voicemails could lead to the same kind of fraud which takes place with scam robocalls and could also fill up inboxes.

The FCC denied a petition by marketing company All About the Message to avoid classing direct voicemails as protected by the TCPA.

Its ban on went into effect immediately.