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The FTC takes a stand: it cracks down on illegal robocalls and spam calls.

By: Christina Davies
Updated on: April 05, 2024

Today, we’ve got some exciting news for all of you who are tired of those ANNOYING scam calls and robocalls disrupting your day. 

With the launch of its most recent campaign, Operation Stop Scam Calls, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has elevated the fight against unlawful robocalls to a completely new level.

Let’s examine this wonderful initiative’s specifics and see how it is putting scammers on the defensive.

The Robocall Epidemic

How does it feel when the phone rings and another voice is trying to upsell you on something you don’t need or, worse yet? That’s the attempt to scam you out of your hard-earned cash. 

Did you know? The National Consumer Law Center and Electronic Privacy Information Center estimate that every single day, more than 33 million Americans scam calls. 

The targets of these scam calls are often the most vulnerable in our society, with seniors frequently falling victim to Social Security Administration fraud. In 2021 alone, Americans lost nearly $30 billion due to these deceitful robocalls. It’s time to stand up to these scammers and put a full stop to these nefarious schemes.

Operation Stop Scam Calls

Enter Operation Stop Scam Calls, the FTC‘s knight in shining armor! 

With this initiative, the FTC is taking the fight directly to the scammers and cracking down on companies engaged in illegal robocall and telemarketing schemes. 

Already, five companies have paid millions of dollars in fines after feeling the full brunt of the FTC’s anger. They were also barred from making similar calls in the future.

Samuel Levine, the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection director, said, “We are taking action against those who trick people into phony consent to receive these calls and those who make it easy and cheap to place these calls.” Bravo, FTC! It’s time to permanently put an end to these nefarious practices.

Stopping the Consent Farms

One of the key targets of Operation Stop Scam Calls is those sneaky “lead-generation consent farms.” These deceptive entities lure consumers with promises of free prizes, rewards, or even potential job leads in exchange for their personal information. 

But, little do the consumers know that this “consent” is then sold to telemarketers, leading to an onslaught of unwanted robocalls.

To tackle this, the FTC has handled 167 such cases and is determined to continue its fight against companies violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. 

Over $2 billion in restitution has already been imposed by the courts from individuals who violated the law. The primary aim was to give the majority of that money going to the victims of consumer fraud. A win-win situation!

The Guilty Parties

So, what organizations have been exposed as having their hands in the cookie jar? 

Among them is Vision Solar, a New Jersey-based company accused of making unlawful telemarketing calls to Arizona residents. They even went to the extent of falsely claiming to be affiliated with utility companies or governmental agencies. 

The main target of this approach was to trigger the clients to purchase and install solar panels on their homes. Their punishment? A proposed $13.8 million penalty and a ban on making such telemarketing claims in the future.

Another culprit is Fluent, based in New York City. They duped consumers into thinking they were being offered job opportunities or free items like a $1,000 Walmart gift card. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Fluent then sold over 620 million telemarketing leads to other companies, blatantly violating federal laws. They consented to a $2.5 million civil penalty and a robocall prohibition as a consequence. Justice is being served!

The Big Picture: Do Not Call Registry

If you’re tired of receiving unwanted sales calls from legitimate companies, the FTC’s got your back with the Do Not Call Registry. You can register your phone number, and voila! 

Say goodbye to those pesky telemarketing calls. Currently, more than 240 million active numbers are on the registry. But beware, scammers still try to find loopholes, so we must remain vigilant.

Consumer Complaints: The Unsung Heroes

Most of the complaints were related to robocalls and telemarketing. 

Unwanted calls, which account for at least 55% of all reported problems, are the main source of these complaints. Kudos to all the vigilant consumers who have raised their voices against these illegal robocalls!

FAQs

What is the FTC doing to stop robocalls?

The FTC is taking strong action against robocalls through its Operation Stop Scam Calls. This campaign involves cracking down on companies engaged in illegal telemarketing schemes, resulting in hefty fines and bans to prevent them from making similar calls in the future.

How do I stop illegal phone calls?

To stop illegal phone calls, you can register your phone number with the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry. This registry prohibits legitimate companies from making sales calls to registered numbers. Additionally, you can report any illicit robocalls to the FTC to aid in their crackdown efforts.

What causes robocalls?

Robocalls are often generated by scammers and telemarketers using automated dialing systems to make mass calls. They may target specific demographics or use “lead-generation consent farms” that trick consumers into providing personal information, which is then sold to other telemarketers.

Do scam calls ever stop?

With the FTC’s efforts and consumer vigilance, scam calls can be reduced, but they may not entirely stop. Scammers continuously find new tactics and loopholes. However, reporting illegal calls and being on the Do Not Call Registry can significantly decrease the frequency of scam calls you receive.

Final Thoughts

In the battle against unlawful robocalls and telemarketing scams, the FTC’s Operation Stop Scam Calls is a breath of new air. The FTC is making a concerted effort to let fraudsters know that their dishonest tactics won’t be allowed. This initiative has the backing of consumers.

So, let’s all join hands and report any illicit robocalls we receive, empowering the FTC to sever these unwanted connections once and for all. Together, we can make the world a little safer from these pesky scam calls! Keep your guard up, and remember, you’re not alone in this battle against robocall villains!

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