The robocall problem in the United States has gone to a frenzy with more than 4.7 billion robocalls placed in May 2019 alone. But the FTC and the Justice Department is now standing up to call robocalls quits.
A joint initiative from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Justice Department was announced as part of the federal agencies’ heightened crackdown against the barrage of robocalls in America. The campaign, “Operation Call It Quits,” has brought almost a hundred actions and lawsuits against several companies who are behind the most disruptive robocalls against Americans.
Four cases were filed, with two filed on its behalf by the Justice Department, by the FTC against several companies responsible for making more than a billion robocalls. Three settlements have also arrived against illegal robocallers.
America’s robocall problem has been one of the most terrorizing issues that citizens are facing right now. It does not only affect individuals, debtors, and potential targeted customers, they also have a massive impact on businesses and government and private institutions like city agencies, hospitals, and banks. In May 2019 alone, there are a total of 4.7 million robocalls placed according to the data from YouMail Robocall Index. This number averages to almost 152.9 million robocalls being sent to consumers every day and 6.2 million every hour.
In the same data, almost half of the robocalls Americans received last month are scam calls (43.9%) and a considerable portion of the 4.7 million are unwanted telemarketing calls (13.32%).
In the past, the Federal Trade Commission has been criticized for its inability to prosecute illegal robocallers. While the FTC claims that “fighting unwanted calls remains one of their highest priorities,” a recent report reveals that the agency along with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has done a lousy job at collecting fines they issued to illegal robocallers.
A recent report made by Wall Street Journal, through an investigation, revealed that while the FCC has issued $208.4 million in fines against robocallers and auto dialers since 2015, less than 1% of the said value has been collected; an indication of FCC’s poor implementation of the regulations that are in place against robocallers.
But with the new and improved campaign of the federal agency in partnership with the Justice Department, the FTC is hopeful that they can make an impact in the coordinated effort in ending the robocall epidemic.
They said that with their new action, they would be able to send a clear message to the robocalling industry effectively.
Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said Americans are “fed up” with the billions of robocalls received every year. “Today’s joint effort shows that combatting this scourge remains a top priority for law enforcement agencies around the nation,” he said.
This is the second wave of the agency in going after illegal and terrorizing robocallers this year. In May, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shut down four separate operations that were responsible for bombarding American households and consumers with billions of unwanted and illegal robocalls.
The companies affected by FTC’s heightened crack down on illegal call spams and autodialing have agreed to settle charges that violated the FTC Act and the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TST), including its Do Not Call (DNC) provisions. These corporations were responsible for pitching auto warranties, debt-relief services, home security systems, fake charities, and Google search results services.
In compliance with the court orders, the FTC said that the companies are now banned from robocalling and other telemarketing activities, including those using an auto dialer. They should also pay a significant grant amount that reaches up to $5.5 million.
This time, FTC said that they are going to make at least 145 violators suffer the consequences of their fraudulent tactics.
Several of the cases involved shuttering operations that offer consumers “bogus” credit card interest rate reduction services, which the FTC said specifically targeted seniors. Other cases involved the use of illegal robocalls to promote money-making schemes.
Other companies include Lifewatch, a company pitching medical alert systems. The FTC accused them of using ID Spoofing techniques to trick victims into answering their calls. The company settled for $25.3 million.