FCC Acting Chairwoman Starts Off Anti-Robocall Agenda
FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced her first set of anti-robocall actions during the March Open Meeting to kick off efforts to combat unwanted robocalls.
These actions include issuing the largest robocall fine in FCC history, demanding certain voice providers cease-and-desist from facilitating illegal robocalls, launching a Robocall Response Team, and delivering letters to the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice, and the National Association of State Attorneys General to renew state-federal partnerships to combat the proliferation of illegal robocalls.
“Unwanted robocalls are not only a nuisance, but they also pose a serious risk to consumers who can inadvertently share sensitive, personal information in response to bad actors’ malicious schemes. I’m proud to unveil my first set of actions to put a renewed focus on what the FCC can do to combat the issue that we receive the most complaints about. I believe closer coordination within the agency and between federal and state partners can help in addressing this consumer epidemic. Also, today’s cease and desist letters should serve as a warning sign to other entities that believe the FCC has turned a blind eye to this issue. We certainly haven’t and we’re coming for you,” said Rosenworcel.
Here are Rosenworcel’s anti-robocall initiatives include:
The issuance of a $225 million fine to Texas telemarketers—the largest fine in FCC history—for illegally spoofing approximately 1 billion robocalls to sell short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans. The robocalls falsely claimed to offer health insurance plans from well-known health insurance companies such as Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, and UnitedHealth Group.
The delivery of cease-and-desist letters to six voice providers that have consistently violated FCC guidelines on the use of autodialed and prerecorded voice message calls and in one case had received prior agency warnings to stop carrying out suspected illegal robocall traffic operations.
The robocall cease-and-desist letters instruct the six identified voice providers to investigate and, if necessary, cease transmitting the identified traffic immediately and take steps to prevent their network from continuing to be a source of apparent illegal robocalls.
Downstream voice service providers will be authorized to block all voice provider traffic if the warned providers do not take steps to effectively mitigate illegal traffic within 48 hours or if they fail to inform the FCC and the Traceback Consortium within 14 days of these letters the steps they’ve taken to implement effective measures to prevent customers from using your network to make illegal calls. Failure to act within the deadline may result in the FCC issuing a notice to all U.S.-based voice service providers that they may permanently block all call traffic transmitting from their networks.
The launch of a Robocall Response Team, a group of 51 FCC staff members across six bureaus and offices tasked with coordinating and implementing the agency’s anti-robocall efforts. The Robocall Response Team will bring together Commission efforts to enforce the law against providers of illegal robocalls, develop new policies to authenticate calls and trace back illegal robocalls, and educate providers and other stakeholders about what they can do to help.
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