Home Economy States sue telecom company over billions of robocalls

States sue telecom company over billions of robocalls


CHICAGO (NewsNation) — Attorneys general across the nation joined in a lawsuit against a telecommunication company, accusing it of making 7.5 billion illegal robocalls to millions of Americans on the Do Not Call Registry.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by 49 attorneys general in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Arizona, against Avid Telecom, its owner Michael D. Lansky and company vice president Stacey S. Reeves. It alleges the company violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule and other federal and consumer and state telemarketing laws. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial to determine damages.

“Our estimates are there are around 80 billion robocalls a year to U.S. consumers — that’s about four or five a week on average,” said Patrick Falzon, general manager of Teltech, RoboKiller.

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“The FCC, over the last five-plus years, has taken a significant interest in stopping the spam call problem or at least attempting to stop the spam call problem,” Falzon said.

Tuesday’s lawsuit arises from the bipartisan Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force of 51 attorneys general and the District of Columbia, which was formed in 2022 to investigate and take down those responsible for routing robocalls.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said nearly 197 million of the robocalls were made to Arizona phone numbers between December 2018 and January 2023.

The lawsuit said Avid Telecom used spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls that appeared to be coming from government and law enforcement agencies as well as private companies.

The company also allegedly sent or transmitted scam calls about the Social Security Administration, Medicare, Amazon and DirecTV, as well as auto warranties, employment and credit card interest rate reductions.

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Avid Telecom told NewsNation it operates as the middleman and never the originating carrier.

“What the FCC has said is it doesn’t matter if you’re the originating provider, terminating provider, or something in the middle, all providers carrying voice traffic have an obligation to make sure the traffic on their network is legitimate, and they’re playing their part in stopping illegitimate or illegal traffic from passing through their network,” Falzon explained.

In a statement to NewsNation, Avid Telecom said the allegations made against it are “demonstrably untrue.”

“Avid Telecom operates in a manner that is compliant with all applicable state and federal laws,” the statement read. “The company will defend itself vigorously and vindicate its rights and reputation through the legal process.”

With robocalls in the spotlight, scammers have started spamming consumers via text messages.

So what should you look out for?

Experts urge consumers to read the privacy policies when online shopping, on social media platforms, and even on portals for doctor visits and prescriptions.

“Most frequently you are giving your information to what you at least think or believe is a legitimate provider, often time is a legitimate provider, but for their privacy policies they’re actually allowed to resell that data,” Falzon said.

Falzon said no one is safe from robocalls, but many consumers use apps like RoboKiller that help to block some spam calls from coming in.

RoboKiller tracks trends that show that areas with senior citizens and/or retirement communities are targeted more. Scammers have designed systems to target, pressure and frighten those consumers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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