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Image credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS via Getty Images

FTC shuts down four major robocall operations

The call centers were responsible for billions of calls per year.
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PAUL J. RICHARDS via Getty Images

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced today that it shut down four separate robocall operations responsible for placing billions of illegal robocalls. The four organizations responsible for the calls agreed to settlements with the agency. Under those agreements, the companies will no longer be able to make robocalls or use automatic dialers to place calls, effectively barring them from the telemarketing business.

The four organizations involved in the FTC crackdown include:

  • NetDotSolutions, a massive robocalling operation that pitched unsuspecting consumers everything from auto warranties to home security systems and supposed debt-relief services. The company was accused of leaving unlawful prerecorded messages, calling numbers on the Do Not Call registry and using spoofed caller ID to trick consumers into picking up. The company faces a $1.35 million fine.
  • Higher Goals Marketing, a company that used robocalls to promise consumers it could lower their credit card interest rates. The operators of Higher Goals Marketing were previously part of another robocall operation, Life Management Services, that was shut down by court order. The organization received a $3.15 million fine as part of the recent settlement.
  • Veterans of America, perhaps the scummiest of the operations involved in the FTC's sting. The company was part of an alleged charity scam run by Travis Deloy Peterson that convinced people to donate cars, boats, and other things of value. Peterson is accused of selling those items and keeping the profit. He now faces a fine of just under $550,000.
  • Pointbreak Media, a company that is accused of falsely claiming to represent Google in an attempt to get small businesses to purchase services that would improve their page rank and position in search results. The company had no real affiliation with Google. The company was hit with a $3.62 million fine.

While the FTC's attempts to stamp out individual robocall operations are valiant, it's unlikely they'll make a real impact on the number of robocalls that people receive. According to YouMail's Robocall Index, there were more than 4.9 billion automatic calls placed during February. That figure has been rising most months since a US court axed a Federal Communications Commission rule designed to curb robocalls. Legislators are working on new laws that may help slow the rate of the calls and carriers are finally giving consumers tools to help squash the unwanted messages, but for now the calls persist.

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