What happens when providers don’t stop robocalls
In a strange turn of events, eight originating service providers did not respond to robocall cease-and-desist letters from the FCC. What happened next? Here’s an overview.
Robocallers and originating service providers
On July 7, 2022, the Ohio Attorney General filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama Operation, including Roy Cox Jr, Aaron Michael Jones, and other individuals and entities, of sending billions of auto warranty robocalls.
The same day, the FCC sent cease-and-desist letters to the following voice service providers that originated these robocalls:
- Mobi Telecom
- Virtual Telecom
- Fugle Telecom
- Call Pipe
- Geist Telecom
- Global Lynks
- South Dakota Telecom
That makes a total of 26 providers that have received cease-and-desist letters from the FCC since March 2021. In previous cases, providers that received such letters promptly complied with the terms.
This time was different. The eight providers that received the July 7 letters failed to respond. Here’s what happened next.
On July 21, the FCC Enforcement Bureau issue an order directing all U.S.-based providers to investigate the illegal traffic identified in the order and mitigate and prevent further transmission of such calls.
“Investigate” means all U.S.-based providers should check if they receive traffic from any of these eight providers. “Mitigation” may include:
- Ending a customer relationship
- Limiting access to high-volume origination services
- Any other steps that stop this traffic and prevent similar traffic in the future.
This might seem a bit vague. The reporting requirements, however, make things clear.
If a U.S.-based provider finds the identified traffic from the Sumco Panama Operation received directly from voice service providers listed above and does not terminate a customer relationship or block the traffic, then that provider is required to provide a written report to the Enforcement Bureau with the results of its investigation and the steps it has taken to effectively mitigate that traffic. This report is due August 4, 2022.
However, if a U.S.-based provider ends its customer relationship with the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama Operation and blocks all traffic from the originating service providers listed above, then the reporting requirement is waived.
But wait, there’s more.
If any provider fails to take necessary steps to avoid carrying unlawful robocalls from these eight providers, then that provider may be deemed to have knowingly and willfully engaged in transmitting unlawful robocalls.
So, the FCC order does not have an absolute requirement to stop receiving traffic from these eight providers. However, refusing their calls is easy, while continuing to receive their traffic imposes a heavy reporting burden and legal jeopardy.
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