Ohio AG Yost held a press conference to announce a new enforcement unit dedicated to combating the 2.2 billion robocalls battering Ohioans’ phones. The Robocall Enforcement Unit will take a multi-pronged approach to the problem by partnering with anti-robocall groups at the national level, investigating suspected violators, taking aggressive enforcement action, and seeking legislation to expand the State’s authority over robocalls. Yost offered no details on what legislation he may be considering. Yost is urging Ohioans to report calls to the unit by texting “ROBO” to 888111 and answering a set of questions that take less than a minute to complete. Consumers also can file complaints by visiting OhioProtects.org or by calling 1-800-282-0515.
Importantly, in the press conference, Yost called out all players in the robocall industry as targets including lead generators, VoIP providers, payment providers, and even CRM software providers. “We need to go after each player in the supply chain,” Yost explains. Elected officials such as state AGs and legislators are under increasing pressure to stop robocalls. They will focus on easy targets to prosecute, not always the guiltiest party. That’s typically the actual seller of the product or service because it’s their name a consumer hears and complains about. Sellers need to aggressively vet not only where they get their leads, but also where their lead vendors got the leads. Just having a contract term requiring the leads to be legally obtained will not insulate a seller from liability. Indemnification clauses also prove worthless when a problem arises because the lead provider simply dissolves the company or disappears.
A leader in the consumer protection arena for more than two decades, Helen is a founding partner of M&S and former Chief of the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section. Her practice focuses on defense of federal, state, and multistate consumer protection investigations and enforcement actions.