Antitrust Law Daily FTC, FCC warn VoIP companies about Coronavirus-related robocalls
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Friday, April 3, 2020

FTC, FCC warn VoIP companies about Coronavirus-related robocalls

By Jody Coultas, J.D.

Separately, the FTC thanked a telecommunications trade association for identifying fraudulent robocalls.

The FTC and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have sent warning letters to three companies that provide Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, informing them that routing and transmitting illegal robocalls, including Coronavirus-related scam calls, is illegal and may lead to federal law enforcement against them. Also, the agencies thanked USTelecom—The Broadband Association, a trade association that represents U.S.-based telecommunications-related businesses, for identifying and mitigating fraudulent robocalls that are taking advantage of the Coronavirus crisis.

Letters sent to gateway providers SIPJoin, Connexum, and VoIP Terminator/BLMarketing on April 3 state that the FTC and FCC believe the companies have routed and transmitted scam robocall traffic related to Coronavirus and request that the recipients cease these actions immediately or face potential law enforcement actions. The letters state that facilitating such calls "has the potential to inflict severe harm on consumers" and "prey on consumer fear and anxiety" related to the Coronavirus pandemic. The letters also notify the recipients that the FTC and FCC obtained information about their conduct working in conjunction with the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group.

US Telecom efforts. In addition to expressing gratitude for the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group’s efforts, the letter sent to USTelecom stated that if, after 48 hours of the release of the letter, any of the specified gateway or originating providers continue to route or transmit the specified originators’ robocalls on its network, the FCC will: (1) authorize other U.S. providers to block all calls coming from that gateway or originating provider; and (2) authorize other U.S. providers to take any other steps as needed to prevent further transmission of unlawful calls originating from the originator.

In a statement, USTelecom acknowledged the efforts of the FCC and FTC for their ongoing commitment to rooting out illegal robocalls. "Sad to say, but robocall scammers are out in force during this public health emergency, using COVID-19 to prey on vulnerable consumers," said Jonathan Spalter, USTelecom’s president and CEO. "As soon as these scams started popping up, we began aggressively tracing them – literally around the world. You can draw a direct line from our quick traceback work to paths into the U.S for these dangerous COVID-19 robocalls being shut off."

Earlier warnings. On March 27, the FTC sent nine warning letters to VoIP service providers and other companies concerning the routing and transmitting of illegal telemarketing relating to the Coronavirus.

Companies: SIPJoin Holdings Corp.; Connexum; VoIP Terminator; USTelecom – The Broadband Assn.

MainStory: TopStory Advertising ConsumerProtection FederalTradeCommissionNews Covid19 GCNNews

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