FCC demands crackdown on auto warranty robocalls

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Americans who prefer not to receive prerecorded appeals over the phone should start to receive at least a small reprieve.

This week, the Federal Communication Commission’s Robocall Response Team issued an order that will require voice-service providers, the companies that facilitate mass phone calls, to block a telemarketing scam through which a company has attempted to sell auto warranties.  

“We are not going to tolerate robocall scammers or those that help make their scams possible,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworce said in a statement. “Consumers are out of patience, and I’m right there with them.”

Importantly, the order does not apply to all telemarketers, all robocalls, or even all robocalls about auto warranties. Sadly, possessors of phones can still count on receiving calls promising free cruises, student debt consolidation, or any other vexing robocall about which one might be currently fuming.

The FCC’s latest order applies only to calls originating from the Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama operation. The FCC had previously issued a public notice that it had requested in writing, in direct and unflinching terms, that eight voice-service companies begin to block calls from this operation.

In its latest notice, the FCC escalated its approach and officially demanded these companies comply after none of the eight demonstrated a willingness to cooperate.

“The eight service providers have not responded to the [FCC’s] letters and so, as provided in the public notice, the Enforcement Bureau is directing all other carriers to refuse to carry this traffic,” an FCC press release reads. “In addition, Chairwoman Rosenworcel announced the Enforcement Bureau had opened a formal case and is actively investigating these calls for possible legal violations.”

According to an FCC press release, investigators believe Cox/Jones/Sumco Panama, which in reality is an enterprise consisting of “Roy Cox, Jr., Aaron, Michael Jones, their individual associates, and associated entities,” has placed more than 8 billion prerecorded calls in the U.S. over just four years, calls the FCC alleges were all unlawful.

“Now that U.S. voice service providers know the individuals and entities associated with this scheme, the Enforcement Bureau will closely monitor voice service providers’ compliance with this order and take appropriate enforcement action as necessary,” Acting FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan A. Egal said.

This week’s crackdown is part of a much larger FCC effort to mitigate how many robocalls make it to the receiving end of American phones.

The Robocall Response Team has been tasked with leveraging “the talents of enforcers, attorneys, policymakers, engineers, economists, and outreach experts to combat the unyielding menace of illegal spoofed, scam robocalls.”

Moreover, the FCC has increased fines for spoofing or robocalls, worked to limit the access international robocallers have to the American market, and worked at the state and federal levels to improve policies.