FTC slaps four major robocalling operations with bans and fines in fight against spam

FTC slaps four major robocalling operations with bans and fines in fight against spam
While Verizon and AT&T have both recently pledged to finally take action against various types of spam calls, borrowing a page from T-Mobile's playbook, the somewhat scattered efforts of individual carriers to keep this rising plague in check are unlikely to ever make a real impact without the FCC and FTC's regulatory help. 

Thankfully, the Federal Trade Commission has just announced the latest step in its own fight against large robocalling "operations", effectively shutting down four such illegal enterprises estimated to have been responsible for "bombarding consumers nationwide with billions of unwanted and illegal robocalls pitching auto warranties, debt-relief services, home security systems, fake charities, and Google search results services."

Even though global research conducted last year by Truecaller found that spam calls were actually on the decline in the US, with robocalls representing only 9 percent of the shrinking total, another report estimated the number of robocalls alone grew a staggering 46 percent between 2017 and 2018, to a whopping 26.3 billion individual calls, or an average of 7 monthly spam calls per person.

Assuming those numbers are at least somewhat accurate, the FTC has merely brought down a small piece of an incredibly complex web of villainous and just outright annoying robocalling activities. But you have to start somewhere, and banning NetDotSolutions, Higher Goals Marketing, Veterans of America, and Pointbreak Media from "robocalling and most telemarketing activities" seems like a great place to do that.

All four operations did bad things over the course of many years, but a charity scam scheme that used different names, including Veterans of America, Vehicles for Veterans, Saving Our Soldiers, Donate Your Car, Donate That Car, Act of Valor, and Medal of Honor, definitely takes the cake in terms of nefariousness, having asked millions of people for donations that never reached any actual veterans' charities.

Meanwhile, Google's name was unlawfully used by a Florida-based scheme called Pointbreak Media to scam small business owners for payments of between $300 and $700 in exchange for various bogus search "optimization" services. Specifically, businesses were promised first-page placement in Google results or threatened with removal from search results entirely. Pretty disgusting stuff all around, for which the FTC is also imposing fines of between $500,000 and $3.64 million. If only sentences like this could be carried out every day.

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