The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned nine Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers that “assisting and facilitating” illegal telemarketing calls related to COVID-19 is against the law.
Many of these illegal telemarketing or robocalls related to the global pandemic, prey upon consumers’ fear of the virus to sow disinformation or perpetrate scams.
“It’s never good business for VoIP providers and others to help telemarketers make illegal robocalls that scam people,” said FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith. “But it’s especially bad when your company is helping telemarketers exploiting fears about the coronavirus to spread disinformation and perpetrate scams.”
FTC staff sent letters to; VoIPMax, SipJin Holding, Corp., iFly Communications, Third Rock Telecom, Bluetone Communications, VoIP Terminator, Inc., J2 Web Services Inc., VoxBone US LLC, and Comet Media Inc.
The letters also cite two civil enforcement actions the Department of Justice has taken against VoIP companies and their owners for “committing and conspiring to commit wire fraud by knowingly transmitting robocalls that impersonated federal government agencies.”
Additionally, the letters warns that the FTC may take legal action against those who assist a seller or telemarketer who they know, or consciously avoid knowing – who is violating the agency’s Telemarketing Sales Rules (TSR).
The letter lists other types of conduct that may violate the TSR, including transmitting false of deceptive caller ID numbers; making a false or misleading statement to induce a consumer to buy something or contribute to charity; misrepresenting a seller or telemarketer’s affiliation with any government agency, and calling those whose numbers are on the National Do Not Call Registry.
The FTC can seek civil penalties and court injunctions to stop TSR violations.
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