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The FCC is slapping two telemarketers with a $225 million fine over robocalls

The FCC is also putting together a Robocall Response Team.

Spam calls on a smartphone
Image: Unsplash

Robocalling slowed down a bit during the pandemic. However, in recent months it got back to pre-pandemic levels. In February alone, Americans received approximately 4.6 billion robocalls. The data assembled by spam-blocking service YouMail also revealed that Americans got roughly 1 million robocalls in five months.

The FCC slapped a $225 million fine on telemarketers Jakob Mears and John Spiller after discovering that they placed about 1 billion calls over five months in 2019. The former FCC chairman, Ajit Pai even pursued this case and proposed the fine back in 2020 initially. Jessica Rosenworcel succeeded Ajit Pai. She continued Pai’s work and pushed the fine on the two telemarketers. 

The FCC fined Jakob Mears and John Spiller for their false offerings of insurance plans from reputable companies such as UnitedHealth Group, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Aetna. Spiller even admitted to calling millions of people per day via robocalls. He even confessed to calling people that were on the Do Not Call list. The FCC even found out that the telemarketer’s calls were spoofed, which is illegal.  

Under the leadership of Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC doesn’t want to stop at only issuing a record-high fine. They also announced the forming of a Robocall Response Team that seeks to address robocalling in the future and prevent it from further spreading and harassing people in America. The upcoming Robocalll Response Team will have a staff of 51 people. It will closely collaborate with the National Association of State Attorneys General, the Justice Department, and the Federal Trade Commission.   

In the meantime, the FCC sent cease and desist letters to six companies accused of facilitating or making robocalls. The list of companies that got the cease and desist letters include RSCom (Canada), Stratics Networks of Canada, Yodel Technologies (Florida, USA), Third Rock Telecom (Canada), IDT Corporation (New Jersey, USA), and Icon Global (UK). The companies on the list stand charged for accusations such as fraudulent calls about COVID-19, debt reduction, fake insurance policies, credit cards, etc. 

In light of the cease-and-desist letters, Chairwoman Rosenworcel released a statement in which she said, “Today’s cease-and-desist letters should serve as a warning sign to other entities that believe the FCC has turned a blind eye to this issue.” Experts believe that this speaks volumes about the FCC’s commitment to deal with robocalls once and for all.

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