FCC orders Avid Telecom to stop health insurance-related robocalls

It issued a cease-and-desist letter against the company.

Thai Liang Lim via Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission has issued a cease-and-desist letter to Avid Telecom, the same company sued by nearly all Attorneys General in the US for alleged robocall activities. In the letter (PDF) addressed to Avid CEO Michael Lansky, the FCC said it has determined that the company "is apparently originating illegal robocall traffic on behalf of one or more of its clients." The commission explained that it worked with USTelecom’s Industry Traceback Group, which investigated prerecorded telemarketing calls related to health insurance that the aforementioned state attorneys general identified as robocalls made without consent.

Apparently, their investigation determined that Avid originated the calls. When notified about the calls, Avid told the traceback group that its customer obtained consent through opt-in websites, but the FCC explained in its letter that the customer "failed to make adequate disclosures to obtain consent." That is, it didn't tell people that their consent authorizes the caller "to deliver advertisements or telemarketing messages using an auto-dialer or an artificial or prerecorded voice." In some cases, the customer allegedly called people even after they revoked their consent.

The FCC has outlined the steps Avid has to take to address the issue, starting by investigating the identified traffic. Then, it has to implement measures that can prevent new and existing customers from using its network to make illegal calls. Within 48 hours of receiving the letter, Avid is required to update the FCC with the measures it has taken to mitigate robocalls coming from its network. After that, it has to inform the commission of the safeguards it has implemented to prevent its customers from using its network to make robocalls. The FCC warned that if Avid fails to comply, downstream voice service providers might permanently block all of Avid’s traffic.

In late May, Attorneys General from 48 states filed a lawsuit against the Arizona-based VoIP services provider, accusing it of being the origin for over 7.5 billion calls to people on the National Do Not Call Registry. According to the lawsuit, Avid spoofed phone numbers and made calls appear as if they were from government offices, law enforcement agencies and companies like Amazon. The Attorneys General are asking the court to issue an injunction on Avid for making robocalls and to make the company pay for damages and restitution to the people it called illegally.