A recent case filed by a state attorney general, in cooperation with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), puts illegal robocallers that don’t play by the rules on notice that not only the companies but also their owners will be sued.
Ohio Attorney General Yost sued 14 companies and 8 people alleging they had “orchestrated an unlawful and complex robocall scheme, at times besieging consumers with more than 77 million robocalls a day to generate sales leads.”
With this astounding number of calls, it’s no wonder that extended automotive warranty calls are persistently at the top of the list of consumer complaints received by regulators! The case also illustrates how effectively the state AGs, through regional and National Association of Attorneys General “robocall working groups” and the FCC’s “Robocall Response Team,” work together to take down an alleged illegal robocall syndicate. This trend will continue based on the signing of robocall investigation partnerships between the FCC and a large majority of state Attorneys General.
Specific allegations in the lawsuit include:
- Making unlawful robocalls without consent
- Failing to disclose the callers’ identities
- Placing calls to numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry
- Failing to honor Do Not Call requests
- Failing to transmit accurate Caller ID information
- Making misleading representations in the initial robocalls
Simultaneously, the FCC issued cease-and-desist letters to voice service providers (VSPs) that originated calls for the Defendants, and it also issued a public notice to all U.S.-based VSPs informing them of the letters and authorizing them to block calls still being generated by the 22 named defendants. It’s estimated that over the past 4 years the Defendants are responsible for over 8 billion unlawful calls, most of which were prerecorded messages, to consumers.
The FCC warned the originating VSPs that if they continue to fail to comply with the requirements laid out in the relevant cease-and-desist letter, the FCC will issue a follow-up instructing all carriers to stop carrying any calls from the identified originating VSPs. This is the type of threat that, if acted upon, puts the VSP out of business permanently.
On the heels of this Ohio-led and FCC-supported enforcement action, the National Association of Attorneys General and the Michigan and Ohio Attorneys General are hosting the “2022 Robocall Summit” July 12-13 in Detroit, Michigan. The agenda includes a panel of attorneys general, who will provide a year in review regarding state robocall cases, industry and federal enforcers, plus representatives from consumer advocacy groups. I will be attending the Summit. Please look for my summary of the event later this week in the PACE newsletter and here on the blog.
Michele is the Managing Partner at M&S and former Chief of the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section. Bringing more than two decades of experience in the consumer protection arena, she advises highly regulated businesses on a wide range of telemarketing, privacy, and other consumer protection matters.