WOW just WOW, we have been seeing this coming for the last few years and things have really been heating up in recent months. The FTC and the FCC are becoming more and more aggressive when dealing with robocalls. Today the FTC along with the FCC, and Illinois and Ohio Attorney General held a press conference announcing Telemarketing Enforcement Sweep.
The target of the joint enforcement effort of, “‘Operation Stop Scam Calls,” is part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to combat the scourge of illegal telemarketing, including robocalls. The initiative not only targets telemarketers and the companies that hire them but also takes action against lead generators who deceptively collect and provide consumers’ telephone numbers to robocallers and others, falsely representing that these consumers have consented to receive calls. The effort also targets Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers who facilitate illegal robocalls every year, which often originate overseas.”
Here are the sounds bites and what you need to know if you are placing telemarketing calls.
Notes from the FTC comments:
Samuel Levine of the FTC shared “Today, government agencies at all levels are united in fighting the scourge of illegal telemarketing. We are taking action against those who trick people into phony consent to receive these calls and those who make it easy and cheap to place these calls… The FTC and its law enforcement partners will not rest in the fight against illegal telemarketing.”
Deceiving and tricking consumers is ILLEGAL.
The FTC states that the consent event is 1:1, and that is the law but maybe not what the Lead generation community wants to hear. They did not elaborate past this statement.
Soundboard technology is a robocall and will be treated as such.
FTC will be targeting those who help facilitate overseas calls gaining a point of entry.
Operation Stop Spam Calls will be seeking civil penalties:
- Injunctive relief
- Criminal, jail time
They provided multiple examples of individuals who have been handed down jail time for their involvement in facilitating robocall scams. They have even extradited individuals from other countries.
- USDC District of Minnesota- 8 guilty pleas – $300M scheme
- USDC SDNY – 78-month sentence to use telemarketers that defrauded consumers with debt
- Arizona – 160-month term, lead list, thousands of older adults to fraudsters, part of a lottery scam
- SDCA – 108-month term, fraudsters impersonated a grandchild or another close relative, who needed money.
The FTC will also be going after all who are assisting in facilitating these types of scams including those who are processing payments.
The FTC is on the consumer’s side and hosts resources on their site and encourages consumers to report these types of occurrences to law enforcement.
Notes from the FCC comments:
They are bringing the largest fine in history against robocallers.
The FCC is working closely with the FTC and the DOJ.
They plan to further expand their investigations into facilitators of robocalls.
The FCC understands that robocalls are now moving towards text and they will be working alongside Federal, State, and law enforcement along with phone developers to create a solution for the issue.
Notes from the Ohio Attorney General Yost:
“Our collective efforts – from this sweep to the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force and beyond – help us to expand our playbook, allowing us to outwit and defeat these perpetrators in their own arena,” AG Yost said. “Our secret weapon is consumers – whom we urge to continue reporting illicit robocalls, so we can sever these unwanted illegal robocallers’ connection once and for all.” In another direct quote, Yost states “Don’t try America” to send a message to overseas robocall scam operations.
The Ohio AG described robocallers as a plague of locus deceiving and scamming consumers and an invasion much too big for a single jurisdiction to stop. Yost is happy to join the bipartisan effort put in motion to thwart robocallers.
Notes from the Illinois Attorney General Raoul:
“Unsolicited robocalls violate consumers’ privacy and unnecessarily cost them time and money. Companies responsible for these illegal, annoying calls must be held accountable,” Raoul said. “I am proud of my office’s role in this robocall sweep with the Federal Trade Commission, law enforcement partners and my fellow attorneys general from across the country. I will continue to work to address this problem in Illinois and protect consumers’ rights by fighting against these unlawful and disruptive practices.”
Illinois is actively participating in the FTC rule-making process.
Few additional feathers to put in your cap as if the above was not enough!
- Stated in the conference it is illegal to deceive through text
- There is a nationwide ban on impersonation fraud
- Use of voice technology is illegal under the FTC Act and voice cloning is accounted for under the TSR, with new technologies that develop the same old laws apply and they will be enforced.
These are all very high-level statements that were provided at today’s conference. Currently there are more questions than answers and all of us at Troutman Amin, LLP will continue to monitor any developments surrounding the joint enforcement efforts that were announced today. Stay tuned!