How many illegal robocalls do you get?
As in, those spoofed numbers made to look like a neighbor’s calling, calls coming in even though you’re on the National Do Not Call Registry, scammers trying to get you to cough up your personal information?
However many you get, it’s too much, since nearly all robocalls are illegal. And we already know that as of September 2019, the number of robocalls flooding US phones was 200 million per day.
Would it be any comfort at all to learn that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has growled at the VoIP companies whose technology fuels this engine of misery?
Last week, the FTC sent letters reminding 19 of the Voice-over-IP (VoIP) companies that enable “fraudsters and abusive telemarketers to call consumers at a fraction of a penny per minute” that they could be held liable, with potential civil penalties of up to $43,280 for each and every one of the calls.
We’ve brought civil actions against companies for facilitating illegal telemarketing, and we can do it again, the FTC warned. The government agency has already taken these actions:
December 2019: the FTC sued a VoIP service provider in FTC v. Educare, where it alleged that defendant Globex Telecom Inc. facilitated a bunch of telemarketers allegedly selling sham credit card interest rate reduction services. You know the type: those “100% money back guarantee if the promised rate reduction fails to materialize!” scammers.
May 2018: in FTC v. James B. Christiano, the agency sued technology companies that knowingly provided software and servers used by a quartet of illegal robocallers, even though the technology companies didn’t contract directly with the illegal telemarketers. Three VoIPs allegedly provided autodialers used to place billions of illegal robocalls, as well as allegedly supplying the technology used by robocallers in at least eight prior FTC cases.
It also pointed out in its letters – which were sent to unnamed VoIP providers – on Tuesday, the day before it sent the letters to the providers, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) brought civil actions against two VoIP companies and their owners. The DOJ alleges that the companies knowingly transmitted robocalls that impersonated federal government agencies, meaning they allegedly committed and conspired to commit wire fraud.
The letters, signed by FTC associate director Lois C. Greisman, directed the VoIP service providers to guidance on how to stop aiding and abetting the crooks and thereby becoming crooks themselves.
On Thursday, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith said in a release that the companies can consider themselves on notice:
VoIP service providers play a unique role in the robocall ecosystem, allowing fraudsters and abusive telemarketers to call consumers at a fraction of a penny per minute These warning letters put VoIP providers on notice that we will take action when they knowingly facilitate illegal robocalls.
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5 comments on “FTC warns VoIP providers that help robocallers: we can and will sue”
How can I sue and get money for these calls?
Tell me something I can use or do about robocallers
Today, Tuesday February 3rd, between the hours of 9:05 a.m. and 4 p.m. I had received 17 telemarketer or robocalls. I’m going to lose my Social Security number, do I want my credit rate improved, I am ready to start leaving my phone turned off and just checking throughout the day to see who’s called me I am so disgusted with it I’m either ready to turn it off or just get rid of my phone all together. Please there’s got to be some help somewhere.
I’ve been offering these callers 1 bitcoin (9k US) to provide information on their employer. Half the time they don’t’ know what it is…. sometimes they ask how I will pay them, ponder it, then hang up. I don’t have any BC lol
Hmmm, I should be sending them to a page I monitor IP addresses hitting, give the IP to LE so they can submit a request to the parent telecom for who has that IP at that time. Then the trigger happy swat teams can have some fun. Ahh dreaming of robocallers heads exploding. Just made my day.
I’ve always thought a TV ad campaign something to the effect of “work at a robocaller company? Get us dirt on your boss and we’ll pay you $10k when we arrest them – if we sue and collect, you get $100k” Imagine how hard the employers would have to try to find people that won’t rat them out.