Best Practices

FCC Launches Robocall “Spring Cleaning” Initiative

Federal crackdown on illegal telemarketing intensifies with FCC's robocall 'Spring Cleaning' initiative targeting tax scams and VoIP providers.

As covered in prior multiple articles, federal and state agencies have been relentless in their efforts to stop illegal robocalling activity. In that same vein, on April 4, 2024, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a “Spring Cleaning” initiative in which it plans to issue a series of robocall enforcement actions in coordination with other federal agencies.

The Focus of Robocall “Spring Cleaning”

The "Spring Cleaning" initiative is all about tackling cyclical scams that become more common during the spring months. The FCC is focused on preventing the damage and distress resulting from springtime scams, such as those tied to the April tax filing deadline, that are powered by illegal robocalls and maximize harm to consumers.

Cease-and-Desist Letter Sent to VoIP provider Veriwave Telco Regarding Robocall Violations

Concurrent with the announcement of its Spring Cleaning initiative, the FCC issued a cease-and-desist letter to VoIP service provider Veriwave Telco (“Veriwave”), ordering it to take all necessary action to mitigate illegal robocall traffic originating on its network. According to robocall identification and blocking service YouMail, starting in November of 2023, nearly 16 million robocalls touting an apparently fraudulent tax relief program were sent to US citizens in a campaign that increased in volume immediately prior to the commencement of the 2024 tax season. The Industry Traceback Group (ITG) conducted tracebacks on 23 calls associated with the campaign and identified Veriwave as the originating service provider for each of them.

The ITG notified Veriwave about the calls and provided supporting data that allowed the company to identify the customer responsible for them, but Veriwave was unable to offer any source of consent for the calls, or otherwise dispute that they were illegal.

The ITG investigation was followed by the FCC cease & desist letter. As is the case with all such letters, it provides notice to the recipient that it must mitigate the illegal traffic originating on its network within 48 hours and implement effective measures to prevent other customers from originating illegal calls within 14 days, or face having its traffic blocked by downstream telecom service providers. Veriwave must also inform the FCC of the specific steps it has taken to mitigate illegal traffic on its network within 48 hours of the delivery date of the letter.

As detailed in prior articles, any failure on Veriwave’s part to fully respond to the requirements set forth in the cease & desist letter will result in an FCC order to all other telecom service providers to immediately block Veriwave’s traffic, an action that effectively sounds the death knell for any VoIP company.

Additional Robocall Spring Cleaning Ahead

As a matter of established practice, the FCC maintains a policy of keeping the identities of parties involved in pending enforcement matters confidential until the Commission decides to act. Therefore, details concerning additional targets of the FCC’s Spring Cleaning initiative have yet to be disclosed.

However, the agency has expressed its intent to collaborate with other federal enforcement agencies in connection with the initiative, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Companies Should Start their Own Spring Cleaning

In light of the FCC’s announcement, companies should roll up their sleeves and break out their brooms for their own spring cleaning. In the weeks and months ahead, they should take the opportunity to dust off business operations, clear out any clutter, and tighten up their compliance efforts to avoid drawing the rightful ire of these agencies.