Call spoofing earned one company an $82 million fine

Earlier this month the U.S. Federal Communications Commission levied a massive fine against a company for making more than 20 million robocalls from obscured numbers. But fines for call spoofing aren’t enough, according to 35 state attorneys general in a comment filed with the FCC.

The state-level officials want “new rules authorizing voice service providers to block illegally spoofed calls…Likewise we encourage all providers to use all available tools to accurately identify illegal calls, including continually monitoring call traffic patterns to develop and refine criteria for identifying such calls; and continually updating and developing technology in the event current systems and solutions become obsolete.”

The law enforcement chiefs note the difficulties in bringing action against people or firms engaged in call spoofing. They call out the difficult in finding the responsible party and note that, often, the origination is from outside of the country. And despite law enforcement and regulatory actions, the problem is getting worse. The attorneys general cite 29.3 billion robocalls in 2016, 30.5 billion in 2017 and a project more than 40 billion by the end of 2018.

The attorneys general call for increasing the collaboration among state and federal watchdogs and the telecom industry in an effort “to identify and implement new methods to combat the proliferation of these illegal acts. Also, we encourage the FCC to implement additional reforms, as necessary, to respond to technological advances that make illegal robocalls and illegal spoofing such a difficult problem to solve.

When it met earlier this month, the FCC took action agains telemarketer Philip Roesel and his companies with an $82 million fine or making more than 21 million robocalls selling health insurance from spoofed numbers.  The FCC had first proposed the fine to Roesel and his companies, including Wilmington Insurance Quotes and Best Insurance Contracts, last summer under the Truth in Caller ID Act. According to the FCC, Roesel and his companies made more than 21.5 million calls during the time period of the complaint, averaging more than 200,000 calls per day — and the vast majority, nearly 17.5 million, were calls placed to mobile devices, including disruption of medical paging service provider Spōk’s service. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau was also able to tie calls from Roesel’s companies to 44 specific consumer complaints filed around the same time.

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