FDA and FTC crack down on illegal robocallers in midst of Coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus

Two federal agencies are cracking down businesses they suspect are exploiting  the Coronavirus epidemic, and may be breaking the law.

The Federal Trade Commission today issued  joint letters with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to three companies providing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services,warning  them that routing and transmitting illegal robocalls, including Coronavirus-related scam calls, is illegal and may lead to federal law enforcement against them.

“The FTC will not stand for illegal robocallers that harm the public, particularly in the middle of a health crisis,” said Chairman Joe Simons in a news release. “These warning letters make clear that VoIP providers who help illegal robocallers prey on fears surrounding the Coronavirus are squarely in our sights.”

“When it comes to scam robocalls, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. These phone companies need to cut off this traffic and protect consumers from these scams. The choice is simple: Move forward as responsible network providers or see themselves cut off from the phone system,” warned FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

In addition to the joint warning letters, the FTC has noted in previously the agency could take legal action independently if it finds VoIP service providers or others are assisting a seller or telemarketer who they know, or consciously avoid knowing, is violating the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).

“The FTC will not stand for illegal robocallers that harm the public, particularly in the middle of a health crisis,” said Chairman Joe Simons. “These warning letters make clear that VoIP providers who help illegal robocallers prey on fears surrounding the Coronavirus are squarely in our sights.”

The FTC has the option of seeking civil penalties and court injunctions to stop TSR violations. It also can seek money to refund to consumers who were defrauded via illegal telemarketing calls.

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