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FTC slaps companies responsible for billions of robocalls with multi-million dollar fines

Published Mar 29th, 2019 6:50AM EDT
Image: Dmitry Kuznitsov, Dreamstime

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Over the past few years, spam calls have become an increasing and seemingly inescapable nuisance. In 2018 alone, a report found that the number of spam calls jumped by a whopping 325%. Compounding matters is that many of the scammers behind the plague of robocalls use numbers that look remarkably similar to a recipient’s own number, thus tricking unsuspecting users into answering the phone.

In an effort to alleviate this growing problem, the FTC recently got involved and issued significant fines while banning four specific companies responsible for a large volume of robocalls. All told, the four companies in question — a list which includes NetDotSolutions, Higher Goals Marketing, Veterans of America, and Pointbreak Media — were responsible for billions of illegal robocalls, some of which sought to coerce users to hand over money for fake charities.

In a statement on the matter, the FTC revealed that all of the aforementioned companies are now banned from engaging in telemarketing activities and are on the hook for massive fines. NetDotSolutions, for instance, was hit with a $1.35 million fine. Higher Goals Marketing, which advertised fraudulent debt-relief services, was slapped with a $3.15 million fine.

Of particular interest is that the owner of NetDotSolutions, a man named James Christiano, sold his auto-dialing software to others companies who also engaged in illegal and widespread robocalling activities.

The FTC’s statement on the matter reads in part:

Four separate operations responsible for bombarding consumers nationwide with billions of unwanted and illegal robocalls pitching auto warranties, debt-relief services, home security systems, fake charities, and Google search results services have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated the FTC Act and the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), including its Do Not Call (DNC) provisions.

The settlements are part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to combat the scourge of illegal robocalls. Under the court orders announced today, the defendants are banned from robocalling and most telemarketing activities, including those using an automatic dialer, and will pay significant financial judgments.

While the FTC’s recent actions certainly won’t put an end to robocalls entirely, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.