FCC Cracks Down on Telecom Firms for Failing to Block Illegal Robocalls

FCC cracks down on telecom firms failing to block illegal robocalls, as consumers seek $500-$1,500 per violation under TCPA. Proactive measures by some providers aim to combat escalating telecom fraud.

Trim Correspondents
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FCC Cracks Down on Telecom Firms for Failing to Block Illegal Robocalls

FCC Cracks Down on Telecom Firms for Failing to Block Illegal Robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been imposing penalties on telecom companies that fail to comply with regulations requiring them to block illegal advertising calls and robocalls. The FCC's Enforcement Bureau (EB) has dedicated resources to investigating and taking enforcement actions against firms that do not implement effective call-blocking measures to protect consumers from unwanted and fraudulent calls.

In fiscal year 2023, the FCC received 1.2 million complaints about unsolicited prerecorded calls. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), consumers who have received such calls in the past year and documented them may be eligible for compensation of $500 to $1,500 per call. The TCPA prohibits certain types of advertising calls without consent, and violators include both large home improvement companies and smaller firms that are not compliant with the rules.

Telecom firms are facing penalties specifically for failing to block advertising calls to cell phones. The TCPA prohibits companies from placing artificial or prerecorded voice calls to cell phones without prior express consent. Consumers can recover $500-$1,500 per violation by filing a lawsuit against an offending company. Many large companies, including banks, debt collectors, and insurance companies, have paid millions of dollars to resolve robocall class actions.

Some telecom firms are taking proactive measures to combat fraudulent calls. BICS, a global provider of international wholesale connectivity and interoperability services, reported blocking 507 million fraudulent calls in 2023, a 28% increase from 2022. The company deployed its FraudGuard solution to address the escalating threat of telecom fraud worldwide, leveraging a network of over 900 service providers. BICS also blocked 473 million SMS fraud attempts, particularly smishing attacks, in 2023.

Why this matters: The persistent problem of illegal robocalls and fraudulent advertising calls continues to plague consumers, despite regulatory efforts to combat them. The FCC's enforcement actions against non-compliant telecom firms highlight the need for stronger measures to protect consumers and hold violators accountable. As technology evolves, both regulators and telecom companies must adapt their strategies to effectively mitigate the impact of these unwanted calls.

The FCC's enforcement actions serve as a prompt that telecom firms have a responsibility to implement robust call-blocking measures and comply with regulations aimed at protecting consumers from illegal robocalls. As FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel stated, "Robocalls are not only a nuisance, but they also pose a real threat to consumers who can inadvertently share sensitive, personal information in response to bad actors' malicious schemes." The ongoing efforts by regulators and proactive measures taken by some telecom companies are crucial steps in safeguarding consumers from the financial and privacy risks associated with fraudulent advertising calls.

Key Takeaways

  • FCC imposes penalties on telecom firms failing to block illegal ads, robocalls.
  • Consumers can recover $500-$1,500 per TCPA violation by suing non-compliant firms.
  • BICS blocked 507M fraudulent calls and 473M SMS fraud attempts in 2023.
  • FCC enforcement highlights need for stronger measures to protect consumers.
  • Telecom firms must implement robust call-blocking to comply with regulations.