Robocalls Rile Regulators
A few months back, I blogged about the increase in robocalls reported by Florida residents. I offered some solutions to help you avoid harassment from these telemarketers. I hope you took the time to join the National Do Not Call Registry. If not, perhaps just not answering the call was enough to keep those calls from bothering you. If you did join the registry, I want to let you know that you are helping regulators in their work to protect consumers.
FTC 2017 Results
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just released its annual report on Privacy and Data Security Enforcement for 2017. Suffice it to say, they made a big impact this year! The whole report can be seen here, but let me summarize for you, if I may.
The FTC settled 10 cases related to general privacy issues with companies such as Uber, Lenovo, Vizio, Upromise. These companies were inappropriately sharing our personal information, pre-loading sneaky software or attempting to collect on fake payday loans. In 2017 the FTC brought a case against an online tax preparer who they say did not adequately protect its users private information, allowing for Tax Identify Theft incidents to occur.
Since initiating the DNC Registry in 2003, the FTC has issued orders for over $1.5B in civil penalties, redress, or disgorgement. The FTC initiated or settled eleven cases related to the Do Not Call Registry in 2017. One case involved a partnership between the FTC and the Florida Attorney General’s office. In that case, All Us Marketing LLC was found to have bombarded Florida consumers with robocalls offering credit card interest rate deductions that they couldn’t deliver. The FTC slapped the company with a permanent ban on robocalls and suspended judgments for amounts up to $4.8M.
FTC Results Come From Consumer Input
In each of the eleven cases related to the Do Not Call Registry, the report notes that robocalls were made to numbers on the Registry. Without that documentation, these cases would be more difficult to solve. The FTC relies on complaints from consumers to find out about these bad actors. They cross check the complainant’s phone number with the DNC list and can levy additional charges if found. Then they know to cross check the company’s records of calls with their lists to find other violations. This information helps supplement their case.
So be sure to thank someone you know who has joined the Do Not Call Registry. Pat yourself on the back if that someone is you! Every name on that list is a champion for consumer rights.
Follow up information as of 11/15/18: A very hardworking team of industry experts have been quietly working on a solution to the robocall issue since 2013. Click here to read their just announced plans. There is hope!