FTC: “Illegal Robocallers, You’re Out”

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In an active week of FTC announcements, the agency on March 26, 2019, announced four major settlements with entities that were responsible for billions of illegal robocalls made to consumers nationwide. The entities targeted by the agency initiated illegal robocalls across a number of industries – they pitched auto warranties, debt-relief services, home security systems, fake charities, and Google search results services. These settlements resolved FTC allegations that the defendants had violated the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.

In Veterans of America, the FTC’s complaint against Travis Deloy Peterson alleged that he “created and used a series of corporate entities and fictitious business names that sound like veterans’ charities to operate a telemarketing scheme that used robocalls to trick generous Americans into giving their vehicles or other valuable property to him” since at least 2012. The settlement includes a monetary judgment of $541,032.10 and would permanently ban defendant Peterson or his employees or contractors from soliciting charitable contributions, making misrepresentation in advertising or promoting any good or service, initiating robocalls, and engaging in deceptive and abusive telemarketing.

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FCC Adopts Order Creating a Centralized Reassigned Number Database, Which Could Address Some Robocall Concerns

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After several requests for comment, the FCC has approved its earlier proposal to create a centralized, comprehensive reassigned telephone numbers database, a resource which many have felt has been lacking. Ideally, the proposed database will be an effective tool to assist businesses in identifying numbers that have been recycled, thus helping to cut down on unwanted or mistaken phone calls received by consumers. This blog outlines the framework of the FCC’s new  database, including access, administration, types of information collected, usage, and potential costs and benefits.  

One of the most persistent complaints by consumers to the FCC is about receiving uninvited “robocalls.”  Generally speaking, these may be phone calls or texts to wireless phones or home phones that may be telemarketing or informational calls from health providers, financial services providers, schools or retailers.  The FCC is the federal agency responsible for implementation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which contains opt in consent requirements for telemarketing and some types of informational calls which are heightened if the call is made to a wireless phone.  Even when consumers have provided the requisite consent to receive “robocalls” calls from businesses it is not uncommon for consumers to terminate phone service, moving to a new service provider and getting a new phone number.

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