Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill joined officials from the Federal Trade Commission today to announce a new initiative to crack down on illegal robocalls. "Operation Call it Quits" is a joint effort involving the FTC and more than two dozen federal, state and local agencies who have brought more than 90 actions targeting robocall operations throughout the country. The initiative also includes new information to help educate consumers about illegal robocalls and how to protect themselves from them.
During a news conference, Hill talked about the impact that robocalls can have on consumers.
"At best, these calls represent a nuisance for families just wanting to enjoy peace and privacy without needless disturbances interrupting their routines. At worse, they represent scams; scams that successfully steal people’s identities and/or hard-earned money," said Hill. "In 2018, Americans lost an estimated $10.5 billion to phone scams. That same year, residents of my own state of Indiana reported losing more than $16 million to such scams. The actual amounts lost are probably much higher because many of our most vulnerable citizens – the elderly- don’t report their losses and often times are embarrassed or intimidated and many times, they don’t even realize they’ve been scammed."
Hill recognized the difficulty in catching and penalizing robocallers due to advancements in technology that prevent authorities from locating and arresting them. He says alliances with partners including the FTC have proved to be "invaluable assets" in the mission against robocalls.
Hill detailed actions taken last month against a Maryland-based American Health Services and two people, Anthony and Michael Valente, who persistently robocalled Indiana residents to pitch various insurance products. Hill says the Valentes had no valid Indiana insurance licenses and never registered their business with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office. Hill’s office filed a complaint against them, alleging the violation of three Indiana statutes. He says they could be responsible for up to $1.7 million in civil penalties, plus fees and costs.
The FTC says "Operation Call it Quits" includes four new cases and three new settlements from the commission alone. The defendants in the cases were collectively responsible for more than a billion illegal robocalls nationwide.
"Enforcement sweeps like this will send a message that the FTC and the states are united in the mission to stop illegal robocalls. In addition, the individual states are partnering with one another in groups such as the Do Not Call Working Group and the Robocall Technology Working Group and we’re building partnerships as well with industry, with companies in the telecommunications sector and elsewhere."
You can read more about the crackdown and the actions taken by various law enforcement agencies by clicking here. You can watch the full press conference in the video below: