FTC announces new operation to combat telemarketing calls

The FTC has brought a total of 167 cases against illegal robocallers and Do Not Call (DNC) violators
Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 2:59 PM CDT
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(InvestigateTV) — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced “Operation Stop Spam Calls,” a new collaboration among state and local partners to stem the tide of illegal telemarketing calls.

The operation includes five new cases from the FTC against companies and individuals responsible for distributing or assisting the distribution of illegal telemarketing calls to consumers nationwide.

Like many, Heather Gaker gets frustrated by unwanted robocalls, so much so that she signed up to be on the national Do Not Call Registry provided by the FTC. However, in 2020 she received seven unwanted calls from a corporation that argued she gave permission to receive the telemarketing calls when she provided her information on a sweepstakes website.

“I basically fell victim to falling into the trap of giving my information, my consent, unknowingly, for them to give my information to hundreds of other people,” Gaker said.

Gaker decided to take action and contacted Jake Ginsburg, a consumer law attorney.

Ginsburg said he’s seen many instances of websites making the fine print of consent too small and confusing for people to understand.

“The website does everything it can to divert the consumer’s eyes away from the fine print, camouflage telemarketing language and instead to look at the dollar signs and colorful letters that say—where should we send your money,” Ginsburg explained. “So, in discovery we realized what was supposedly entered.”

Gaker filed a lawsuit stating the company “violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by placing telemarketing calls to her cell phone without her prior consent, despite her being on the Do Not Call Registry.”

Ginsburg said flouting of the TCPA is widespread.

“It is very much a nationwide issue. Heather alone, when she went to this website, her data was passed on to hundreds of different telemarketers. And there are countless other people who submit this site. It’s not just sweepstakes. There have been other cases where courts have found telemarketing consent to be invalid,” Ginsburg said.

The judge agreed, saying that each of the seven calls to Gaker constituted a violation of the TCPA and awarding her the maximum $500 for each violation.

Gaker said it wasn’t about the money for her, she just wanted to stand up for her right to privacy and let others know they can too.

Spam and illegal calls can be reported to the FTC.

The FTC has additional information on how to join the effort help stop spam calls.