Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a crackdown on bogus robocalls related to car warranties, specifically for the entities that are believed to be responsible for most of them. If you have noticed fewer warranty-related robocalls of late, that is likely the reason why.
“Billions of auto warranty robocalls from a single calling campaign,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in the early July FCC release. “Billions! Auto warranty scams are one of the top complaints we get from consumers and it’s time to hold those responsible for making these junk calls.” The attorney general of Ohio also sued those believed responsible, although there have not been federal criminal charges filed in the matter, at least not yet.
“Our lives are plagued by robocalls like a swarm of flies,” Yost said. “This particular operation prompted more than 1,600 unwanted-call complaints to my office. It’s time to get out the fly swatter,” Ohio attorney general Dave Yost said when he announced the state's lawsuit.
Now, the FCC has taken the additional step of actually blocking the campaigns.
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has “ordered phone companies to stop carrying traffic regarding a known robocall scam marketing auto warranties.”
“We are not going to tolerate robocall scammers or those that help make their scams possible. Consumers are out of patience and I’m right there with them,” Rosenworcel said of the FCC’s actions.
“Specifically, the Bureau notifies and directs all U.S.-based voice service providers to take immediate steps to effectively mitigate suspected illegal robocall traffic made by or on behalf of the following: (1) Roy Cox, Jr.; (2) Aaron Michael Jones; (3) their individual associates; and (4) associated entities (collectively, the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama Operation),” the FCC said in its order, naming the individuals previously identified as responsible. “A voice service provider may satisfy this obligation if it terminates a customer relationship with the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama Operation or blocks all traffic from the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama Operation and from the Originating Providers identified below.”
The order also warned providers.
“If any voice service provider, after investigation of the suspected illegal robocall traffic identified in this Order, thereafter does NOT terminate a customer relationship or block the traffic, it will be required to provide a written report to the Bureau with the results of its investigation, as required by section 64.1200(n)(2) of the rules,” the order said.
“The provider should also continue to demonstrate its ongoing efforts to mitigate the traffic associated with the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama Operation. Should any voice service provider fail to comply with these obligations and fail to take all necessary steps to avoid carrying suspected illegal robocall traffic made by/on behalf of these individuals and entities, that voice service provider may be deemed to have knowingly and willfully engaged in transmitting unlawful robocalls.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.