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FCC Proposes $82M Fine on Spoofer
The Federal Communications Commission today proposed a fine of more than $82 million against parties it believes made more than 21 million illegally spoofed robocalls. And the FCC (News - Alert) is doing additional work to prevent this kind of thing.
The calls involved in this specific case, the FCC explained in a press release, were in violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 and the commission’s own rules. That law prohibits callers from deliberately falsifying caller ID information to disguise their identity with the intent to harm, defraud consumers, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.
The parties at which this fine may be levied include Best Insurance Contracts and its owner operator, Philip Roesel, which do business under the name Wilmington Insurance Quotes. They are out of Wilmington, N.C.
Medical paging provider called Spok brought the robocalling issue to the FCC’s attention in December when it told the commission that robocalling campaigns were disrupting its network. “Using information provided by Spok to connect these calls to Mr. Roesel, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau subpoenaed Mr. Roesel’s call records from October 2016 through January 2017,” the FCC explained. “Based on these records, FCC investigators verified 82,106 health insurance telemarketing calls made during that time used falsified caller ID information. These calls are the basis for today’s proposed fine.”
The FCC punishes this kind of behavior, it explained, because having accurate caller ID information is important to consumers as they make decisions about what calls to accept, block, and ignore. And those efforts help consumers avoid fraud, protect their privacy, and safe time, it added.
Preventing robocalls and spoofing have been two areas of focus for new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, according to a recent report by CBS News. A recent Perkins Coie blog lays out the details of the FCC’s efforts on this front.
“In March 2017, the FCC adopted an NPRM and NOI that, if promulgated, would allow carriers to block illegal robocalls by screening calls that originate from invalid or unassigned phone numbers—establishing that such blocking would not constitute an unjust and unreasonable practice,” the law firm explained. “Additionally, in July, the FCC issued a Second NOI seeking comment on how carriers can create a comprehensive database of phone numbers that have been reassigned. A comprehensive database of reassigned phone numbers would help businesses identify telephone numbers that have been reassigned from a consumer who has consented to receive calls to a consumer who has not consented to such calls.”
That’s noteworthy in light of the growing number of robocalls and the increasingly sophisticated tools bad actors are using to do call spoofing related to such practices. There were an estimated 29 billion unauthorized robocalls in America last year. Perkins Coie says unsolicited robocalls cost Americans about $350 million each year in fraud. And the FCC gets more than 200,000 complaints about robocalls each year.