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The Federal Communications Commission hopes to make hearing about “your car’s extended warranty” a thing of the past as the agency ordered American voice providers to stop carrying phone calls from 13 individuals and six companies accused of sending billions of illegal robocalls since 2018.
The FCC enforcement bureau ordered American companies Thursday to stop servicing several individuals from Texas, California, and even Hungary by taking active steps to mitigate or outright block calls from such individuals.
“Should any voice service provider fail to comply with these obligations and fail to take all necessary steps to avoid carrying suspected illegal robocall traffic made by/on behalf of these individuals and entities, that voice service provider may be deemed to have knowingly and willfully engaged in transmitting unlawful robocalls,” the FCC said in its order.
“We are not going to tolerate robocall scammers or those that help make their scams possible,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Consumers are out of patience and I’m right there with them.”
The purpose of the letter was to “provide actual written notice to all voice service providers about suspected illegal robocalls that have been made in violation of one or more provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, the Truth In Caller ID Act of 2009, and/or the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act) of 2019, collectively codified in section 227 of the Communications Act.”
In one case, two men by the names of Roy Melvin Cox Jr. of Tustin, California, and Aaron Michael Jones of Orange County, California, are accused of sending more than eight billion robocalls through an operation known as Sumco Panama S.A and Sumco Panama, Inc.
These two men are accused of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Cox’s and Jones’ calls allegedly “displayed inaccurate or misleading caller identification, with an apparent intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain something of value, in violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act and section 64.1604 of the Commission’s rules,” the FCC noted.
The individuals in question also reportedly “purchased nearly 500,000 numbers from at least 229 area codes in November and December 2020 apparently to make the calls appear to consumers as if they were originating locally.”
Authorities say that approximately “75% of FCC complaints which listed caller ID pertained to numbers that matched the consumer’s area code, belonged to area codes adjacent to the consumer’s area code, or belonged to an area code in the same state.”
For example, the FCC said that the following infamous script was often deployed to trick unsuspecting individuals:
“We’ve been trying to reach you concerning your car’s extended warranty. You should have received something in the mail about your car’s extended warranty. Since we have not gotten a response, we are giving you a final courtesy call before we close out your file. Press 2 to be removed and put on our Do-Not-Call list. Press 1 to speak with someone about extending or reinstating your car’s warranty. Again, press 1 to speak with a warranty specialist. (Pause) Or call our 800 number at 833-304-1447.25,” one call said.
If a voice provider cancels any of the accused as a customer or blocks all traffic from the accused, they will not have to report efforts to mitigate illegal robocalls with the customer in question to the FCC.
However, “if any voice service provider, after investigation of the suspected illegal robocall traffic identified in this Order, thereafter does NOT terminate a customer relationship or block the traffic, it will be required to provide a written report to the Bureau with the results of its investigation, as required by section 64.1200(n)(2) of the rules.”
“Now that U.S. voice service providers know the individuals and entities associated with this scheme, the Enforcement Bureau will closely monitor voice service providers’ compliance with this order and take appropriate enforcement action as necessary,” Acting FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan Egal said in a statement.