The FCC and Federal Trade Commission have teamed up to a trio of VoIP 'gateway providers' they said are allowing scam COVID-19 robocalls from overseas to flood an anxious public's phones.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai and FTC chairman Joseph Simons said that if those gateway providers, who were identified by a consortium of phone companies managed by USTelecom, don't stop that flow of scam calls now, carriers can--and should--start blocking all their traffic.
“When it comes to scam robocalls, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. These phone companies need to cut off this traffic and protect consumers from these scams," said Pai. "The choice is simple: Move forward as responsible network providers or see themselves cut off from the phone system."
Saying they had been working with the Department of Justice, the FCC and FTC said that if those scammer gateways don't comply within 48 hours, other phone companies can begin blocking all their traffic.
“The FTC will not stand for illegal robocallers that harm the public, particularly in the middle of a health crisis,” said Joseph Simons. “These warning letters make clear that VoIP providers who help illegal robocallers prey on fears surrounding the Coronavirus are squarely in our sights.”
Getting the warning letters--from both the FCC's Enforcement Bureau and FTC Consumer Protection Bureau, were VoIP providers SIPJoin of Suffolk, Va.; Connexum of Orange, Calif.; and VoIP Terminator/BLMarketing of Lake Mary, Fla.
The letters cite one offer of a nonexistent COVID-19 “free test kit” for COVID-19, with calls originating in the Philippines, and a second offer of HVAC cleaning services to "fight COVID-19," with the calls originating in Pakistan.
The FCC has made a big push to crack down on illegal robocalls
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.