The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have revealed that three voice over internet providers (VoIP) may lose access to the U.S. telecom network if they do not stop robocallers for using their services for spreading coronavirus and other scams.
The VoIP companies concerned are SIPJoin, Connexum and VoIP Terminator / BLMarketing, the FTC said in a statement.
US consumers have received 106 billion unwanted robocalls (325 per person) in 2019 – a 49 percent jump from the previous year, according to the Transaction Network Services (TNS) 2020 Robocall Investigation Report released today. The TNS report shows that robocallers are increasingly spoofing legitimate customer-care numbers from trusted brands to try to trick consumers.
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau and FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection already wrote to three gateway providers that are facilitating these scam COVID-19-related robocalls: SIPJoin of Suffolk, Virginia; Connexum of Orange, California; and VoIP Terminator/BLMarketing of Lake Mary, Florida.
Traceback, a consortium of phone companies that help officials track down suspect calls, managed by the trade association USTelecom, has identified these VoIP companies. The commissions also wrote to USTelecom to ask its members to begin blocking calls from these providers if the flood of robocalls is not cut off within 48 hours.
FCC said these letters specifically cite two of the many COVID-19 related scam robocall campaigns. One campaign offers a non-existent free test kit for COVID-19. These calls originate in the Philippines. A second campaign offers HVAC cleaning services that robocallers falsely claim will help fight COVID-19. These calls originate in Pakistan.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said: “During this national emergency, it is unconscionable that these companies are abusing their access to our nation’s telephone network by serving as conduits for scam robocallers who are subjecting Americans to coronavirus-related fraud.”
“The FTC will not stand for illegal robocallers that harm the public, particularly in the middle of a health crisis,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “These letters make clear that VoIP providers who help illegal robocallers prey on fears surrounding the Coronavirus are squarely in our sights.”
Carriers, other industry participants and regulators collaborated in the second half of 2019 to address robocalls issue. The recently passed Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, deployment of STIR/SHAKEN and carrier usage of analytics engines should reduce unwanted robocalls.
TNS says its Call Guardian technology enables carriers to identify more unwanted robocalls than competitors. Call Guardian integrates big data analytics with call attestation parameters from STIR/SHAKEN and delivers a better customer experience by using a layered approach to analytics.