FCC imposes largest ever fine against telemarketers that made 1 billion robocalls

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The agency says it’s continuing to improve its efforts to fight robocalls

Two telemarketers based in Texas have been slapped with a record $225 million fine from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for making approximately 1 billion robocalls to consumers across the U.S. 

The FCC said the telemarketers, who used business names including Rising Eagle and JSquared Telecom, operated at least two businesses that illegally spoofed well-known companies like Cigna in an attempt to sell short-term insurance plans. 

One of the telemarketers, John C. Spiller “admitted to the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group that he made millions of spoofed calls per day and knowingly called consumers on the Do Not Call list as he believed that it was more profitable to target these consumers,” according to the FCC. 

The number of spoofed robocalls transmitted by the two telemarketers snowballed to one billion in less than five months during 2019, the agency said. 

New anti-robocall efforts

Despite a number of new regulatory actions that have been taken in recent years to curb robocalls, they’re still a big problem for consumers. The agency said it’s aware of the issue and will continue ramping up its efforts to stop robocalls, especially since they could lead to consumers unwittingly sharing sensitive personal information with bad actors. 

In a separate announcement, acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that the agency has established a new Robocall Response Team made up of 51 FCC members across six offices. 

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,” Rosenworcel said. 

The FCC has also sent cease-and-desist letters to six companies in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. that have consistently violated its guidelines on automated calls. Failure to comply with the requests in the letters may result in the agency permanently blocking all call traffic from their networks. 

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