FCC Selects Industry Traceback Group to Lead Illegal Robocall Source Identification Efforts

On July 27, 2020, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau designated USTelecom’s Industry Traceback Group (ITG) as the official consortium to coordinate efforts to trace back the source of illegal robocalls. ITG is a collection of voice service providers that focuses on tracing the source of suspected unlawful robocalls. If ITG detects likely illegal call traffic, it may work with participants in the telecommunications ecosystem to terminate that traffic and refer complaints to federal agencies.

The TRACED Act of 2019 required the FCC to select a consortium for organizing private efforts to trace back the origin of suspect robocalls. ITG has worked with the FCC in recent years by helping to develop traceback procedures that assist with enforcement efforts. For example, in April and May, ITG identified several providers acting as a gateway for overseas COVID-19 scam calls. ITG provided data about these calls to the FCC and the FTC, who then sent the providers warning letters resulting in the providers terminating access for these callers. In June, ITG identified a telemarketer alleged to have made one billion illegal spoofed calls which led the FCC to issue a $225 million fine, the largest it ever proposed. One can reasonably assume that this existing working relationship and recent enforcement successes eased the selection process.

The partnership with ITG will likely strengthen the FCC’s resources and tools to stop illegal robocalls. Voice service providers should treat seriously ITG traceback requests and monitor for trends that indicate potential noncompliance by their caller clients. Callers should also be prepared to respond to demands from voice service providers for evidence of compliant calling such as proof of consent for the calls and documented compliance programs. Otherwise, in the words of  USTelecom’s CEO Jonathan Spalter, ITG will “have your number.”

* Aaron Parry contributed to this post.