US telecom providers will now be required to block millions of illegal robocalls a day advertising extended vehicle warranties, the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday, taking aim at a group of individuals accused of sending more than 8 billion such messages since 2018.
Thursday’s order by the FCC requires voice providers to stop carrying calls the agency has linked to 13 individuals and six companies, mostly based in Texas and California but also in such far-flung places as Hungary.
The robocalls produced by the group typically begin with recorded lines such as, “We’ve been trying to reach you concerning your car’s extended warranty,” the FCC order said.
Such calls represented the single largest source of consumer complaints to the FCC in each of the past two years, adding up to thousands of complaints a year.
As part of its scheme, the group bought access to nearly half a million phone numbers from more than 200 area codes in the fall and winter of 2020, the FCC said, and then used them to make it appear to recipients that the robocalls were coming from local numbers.
The group is still blasting out millions of illegal calls every day, the FCC added.
Though the FCC had previously notified US telecom companies about the robocalls, Thursday’s order is the first to force carriers to stop transmitting them. By unmasking the specific people and entities behind the calls, the FCC has provided the necessary information to block them, said Acting FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan Egal in a statement.
With few exceptions, automated calls made without the recipient’s consent are illegal under US law.
In light of Thursday’s order, telecom companies that continue to carry the illegal calls may be held liable themselves, the FCC said.