FTC, DOJ Seek To Enjoin Internet Provider From Facilitating Illegal Robocalls – IT and Internet


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On April 26, the DOJ filed a federal complaint on behalf of the
FTC against a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, a
related company, and its owner for allegedly facilitating the
transmission of illegal telemarketing robocalls.

According to the complaint, the companies and owner assisted in
the transmission of millions of robocalls, including calls that
they knew or should have known were scams. Specifically, the
company provided VoIP services despite knowing that its customers
were delivering prerecorded messages and were displaying spoofed
caller IDs in various scams, including scams related to the
COVID-19 pandemic, tech support, and credit card interest rate
reduction. Further allegations include that the company knew its
customers were placing calls to numbers on the FTC’s Do Not
Call (DNC) Registry. Many of the robocalls originated overseas, and
the company also allegedly failed to prevent the calls from
reaching American consumers.

Under the FTC’s proposed order to settle the complaint,
the company would be required to implement a number of procedures
and safeguards to prevent future violations of the FTC’s
Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) during operations as a VoIP service
provider. The provider would be required to:

  • Stop facilitating abusive robocalling and telemarketing
    practices;

  • Not engage in any future TSR violations, nor assist others in
    doing so;

  • Terminate business relationships with customers found to be
    violating the TSR;

  • Enact new procedures to block suspected robocalls; and

  • Screen customers to ensure it is not providing VoIP services to
    suspected telemarketers and robocallers.

While the order includes a judgment of more than three million
dollars, it has been suspended due to the company’s financial
status and inability to pay the penalty.

Putting it Into Practice: This is the
latest in a string of instances in which the FTC tackles illegal
telemarketing through the callers’ VoIP services. This is the
FTC’s third case in two years against providers of VoIP
services found to be facilitating illegal robocalls—it sued
another company in December 2020 for knowingly facilitating
robocalls that displayed “911” as the caller ID and
dialed calls impersonating the Social Security Administration. In
February 2022, two VoIP companies were ordered by California
federal courts to turn over information that the FTC sought as part
of an investigation into illegal telemarketing practices. The
companies initially failed to comply with requests for information
contained in civil investigative demands (CIDs) served by the FTC
and were forced to comply when the FTC brought them to court. The
FTC is aggressively pursuing illegal robocallers, and has
demonstrated—again—that it will severely penalize VoIP
companies who facilitate these calls and will not tolerate VoIP
companies otherwise impeding its investigations.

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