FCC Seeks Record $225 Million Fine for Telemarketers’ Illegal Robocalls

Enforcement action against health insurance telemarketers is important step to protect consumers and legitimate businesses.

6/10/2020 9:30 AM

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FCC Seeks Record $225 Million Fine for Telemarketers’ Illegal Robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission this week proposed a $225 million fine against health insurance telemarketers in Texas that allegedly made 1 billion illegally spoofed calls.

“ACA applauds the FCC for taking this important action against fraudulent behavior that harms consumers,” said ACA’s Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy Leah Dempsey. “ACA will continue to urge the FCC to focus on punishing bad actors and providing much needed clarity for legitimate businesses.”

These calls impact consumers as well as legitimate businesses trying to make calls about financial services and health care, especially during times of crisis such as COVID-19.

ACA urges the FCC to continue to focus on illegal actors and to draw clear distinctions between them and legitimate business callers as outlined in comments to the FCC earlier this year.

The issue was also discussed at the Washington Insights Livestream with ACA’s advocacy team and representatives from the FCC and Congress.

In the FCC’s investigation, it found apparent violations of the Truth in Caller ID Act by C. Spiller and Jakob A. Mears, who used business names including Rising Eagle and JSquared Telecom, according to a news release from the FCC. “Rising Eagle made approximately one billion spoofed robocalls across the country during the first four-and-a-half months of 2019 on behalf of clients that sell short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans,” the FCC reports. “Mr. Spiller admitted to the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group that he knowingly called consumers on the Do Not Call list as he believed that it was more profitable to target these consumers. He also admitted that he made millions of calls per day, and that he was using spoofed numbers.”

Specifically, the FCC found that Rising Eagle’s robocalls were “spoofed in order to deceive consumers, targeted millions of Do Not Call list participants, and were received on many wireless phones without prior consumer consent. The scam also caused the companies whose caller IDs were spoofed to become overwhelmed with angry call-backs from aggrieved consumers,” according to the FCC’s news release.

This shows the impact such cases can have on consumers and legitimate businesses making calls about important financial and health care information, among other topics.

According to the FCC, at least one company was subject to several lawsuits because its number was spoofed, and another was so overwhelmed with calls that its telephone network became unusable.

ACA supports actions by regulators to mitigate and prevent these issues and continues to focus on industry advocacy for the implementation of the reassigned numbers database, the need for a definition of called party, and ongoing petitions for clarity under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, as well as implementation of steps in the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act.

Efforts such as implementation of the SHAKEN/STIR call authentication framework are a step in the right direction, as a group of industry trades, including ACA, noted in recent comments filed with the FCC on its call authentication rulemaking.

“We write to urge the commission to promptly initiate a rulemaking to implement other, critically important provisions of the TRACED Act that require the Commission to address erroneous blocking or mislabeling of legitimate calls,” the comment letter from ACA, the Credit Union National Association, the American Bankers Association, the American Financial Services Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, and the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions states.

The joint trades support efforts to curb illegal robocalls but stress there is the need to ensure that implementation of SHAKEN/STIR and related efforts to combat illegal automated calls through authorized call blocking and labeling do not adversely affect the delivery of important and often time-critical legitimate calls.

ACA also urges the FCC to clarify that voice service providers may no longer rely on “reasonable analytics” to block “unwanted robocalls” on an opt-out basis and require voice service providers to give notice when they place a derogatory label on a business’s outbound calling number which would be consistent with the TRACED Act now signed into law. One year after enactment of the TRACED Act, it is required that robocall blocking services include transparency and effective redress options for consumers and callers.

Meanwhile, neither the allegations nor the proposed sanctions in the FCC’s Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture against the telemarketers are final commission actions. The party will be given an opportunity to respond and the commission will consider the party’s submission of evidence and legal arguments before acting further to resolve the matter, according to the news release.

ACA will continue to follow this story.

For more information on how the ACA Licensing staff can assist with your licensing needs, please contact us at Licensing@acainternational.org or call (952) 926-6547.


Follow ACA International on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector, Facebook and request to join our LinkedIn group for news and event updates. ACA International members are welcome to submit news items for possible publication to comm@acainternational.org. Visit our publications page for news submission guidelines and subscriptions to ACA Daily, Collector magazine and Pulse.

Advertising is available for companies wishing to promote their products or services. Be sure to visit the ACA Events Calendar on the Education and Training page to view our listing of upcoming CORE Curriculum and Hot Topic seminars featuring critical educational opportunities for your company.


Subscribe to ACA Daily NEWSROOM

FCC Seeks Record $225 Million Fine for Telemarketers’ Illegal Robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission this week proposed a $225 million fine against health insurance telemarketers in Texas that allegedly made 1 billion illegally spoofed calls.

“ACA applauds the FCC for taking this important action against fraudulent behavior that harms consumers,” said ACA’s Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy Leah Dempsey. “ACA will continue to urge the FCC to focus on punishing bad actors and providing much needed clarity for legitimate businesses.”

These calls impact consumers as well as legitimate businesses trying to make calls about financial services and health care, especially during times of crisis such as COVID-19.

ACA urges the FCC to continue to focus on illegal actors and to draw clear distinctions between them and legitimate business callers as outlined in comments to the FCC earlier this year.

The issue was also discussed at the Washington Insights Livestream with ACA’s advocacy team and representatives from the FCC and Congress.

In the FCC’s investigation, it found apparent violations of the Truth in Caller ID Act by C. Spiller and Jakob A. Mears, who used business names including Rising Eagle and JSquared Telecom, according to a news release from the FCC. “Rising Eagle made approximately one billion spoofed robocalls across the country during the first four-and-a-half months of 2019 on behalf of clients that sell short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans,” the FCC reports. “Mr. Spiller admitted to the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group that he knowingly called consumers on the Do Not Call list as he believed that it was more profitable to target these consumers. He also admitted that he made millions of calls per day, and that he was using spoofed numbers.”

Specifically, the FCC found that Rising Eagle’s robocalls were “spoofed in order to deceive consumers, targeted millions of Do Not Call list participants, and were received on many wireless phones without prior consumer consent. The scam also caused the companies whose caller IDs were spoofed to become overwhelmed with angry call-backs from aggrieved consumers,” according to the FCC’s news release.

This shows the impact such cases can have on consumers and legitimate businesses making calls about important financial and health care information, among other topics.

According to the FCC, at least one company was subject to several lawsuits because its number was spoofed, and another was so overwhelmed with calls that its telephone network became unusable.

ACA supports actions by regulators to mitigate and prevent these issues and continues to focus on industry advocacy for the implementation of the reassigned numbers database, the need for a definition of called party, and ongoing petitions for clarity under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, as well as implementation of steps in the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act.

Efforts such as implementation of the SHAKEN/STIR call authentication framework are a step in the right direction, as a group of industry trades, including ACA, noted in recent comments filed with the FCC on its call authentication rulemaking.

“We write to urge the commission to promptly initiate a rulemaking to implement other, critically important provisions of the TRACED Act that require the Commission to address erroneous blocking or mislabeling of legitimate calls,” the comment letter from ACA, the Credit Union National Association, the American Bankers Association, the American Financial Services Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, and the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions states.

The joint trades support efforts to curb illegal robocalls but stress there is the need to ensure that implementation of SHAKEN/STIR and related efforts to combat illegal automated calls through authorized call blocking and labeling do not adversely affect the delivery of important and often time-critical legitimate calls.

ACA also urges the FCC to clarify that voice service providers may no longer rely on “reasonable analytics” to block “unwanted robocalls” on an opt-out basis and require voice service providers to give notice when they place a derogatory label on a business’s outbound calling number which would be consistent with the TRACED Act now signed into law. One year after enactment of the TRACED Act, it is required that robocall blocking services include transparency and effective redress options for consumers and callers.

Meanwhile, neither the allegations nor the proposed sanctions in the FCC’s Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture against the telemarketers are final commission actions. The party will be given an opportunity to respond and the commission will consider the party’s submission of evidence and legal arguments before acting further to resolve the matter, according to the news release.

ACA will continue to follow this story.

For more information on how the ACA Licensing staff can assist with your licensing needs, please contact us at Licensing@acainternational.org or call (952) 926-6547.


Follow ACA International on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector, Facebook and request to join our LinkedIn group for news and event updates. ACA International members are welcome to submit news items for possible publication to comm@acainternational.org. Visit our publications page for news submission guidelines and subscriptions to ACA Daily, Collector magazine and Pulse.

Advertising is available for companies wishing to promote their products or services. Be sure to visit the ACA Events Calendar on the Education and Training page to view our listing of upcoming CORE Curriculum and Hot Topic seminars featuring critical educational opportunities for your company.


Subscribe to ACA Daily NEWSROOM

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