Regulators and legislators are taking increasingly aggressive actions to stop illegal telemarketing calls and robocalls.
On July 18, those efforts reached an all time high when the FTC and DOJ announced “Operation Stop Scam Calls,” a joint agency crackdown “on telemarketers, lead generators, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers responsible for making or facilitating billions of illegal telemarketing calls.”
The coalition brings together more than 100 federal and state law enforcement partners, including the attorneys general from all 50 states.
According to the FTC’s announcement, this so-called sweep will “target those who distributed or facilitated billions of illegal calls [to US consumers] and sold more than 700 million telemarketing leads.”
During its press conference at the Chicago FTC office, the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Director, Samuel Levine, along with leaders from the Department of Justice, FCC, and state attorneys general, laid out the actions taken against groups ranging from telemarketers and the companies that hire them to lead generators, VoIP providers, and more.
What Does the Action Mean for Your Business?
The expansive actions of Operation Stop Scam Calls signal an escalation in nationwide regulators’ already intense efforts to stop deceptive telemarketing practices.
Comments made during Tuesday’s announcements were focused on fighting back against these practices, as well as the organizations who, wittingly or unwittingly, enable them.
The FTC’s Levine zeroed in on issues of “phony” consent to receive calls, soundboard technology, and schemes that took advantage of older adults and defrauded consumers.
While the conference largely painted with broad strokes and focused on actions already taking place, the fanfare of the announcement and the severity of the overall operation should have all telemarketers on notice. Every organization should, now more than ever, be working with their partners and counsel proactively to build a defensible position.
In addition, our friends at Troutman Amin, LLP pointed out some questions raised by the announcement’s rhetoric:
- Deceiving and tricking consumers is ILLEGAL: The consent event is 1:1, and that is the law but maybe not what the lead generation community wants to hear
- The FTC will be targeting those who help facilitate overseas calls gaining a point of entry
- Operation Stop Spam Calls will be seeking civil penalties, including Monetary, Injunctive relief, Criminal/jail time
While we await further developments in this story, one thing’s for sure: we’ll be watching this space closely—and bringing you any updates as soon as we have them.
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