June 10, 2020

FCC seeks $225 million fine for companies accused of making a billion illegal robocalls

On June 9, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission announced a proposed $225 million fine for a telemarketer (referred to as “Rising Eagle”) that allegedly made almost 1 billion illegally spoofed robocalls in less than 5 months in early 2019, including to persons on the Do Not Call List.  The FCC adopted a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture alleging violations of the Truth in Caller ID Act that prohibits the manipulation of caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.  According to the FCC, the telemarketer’s scheme involved using spoofed Caller ID numbers to flood consumers with prerecorded calls that misled consumers into thinking that they were from reputable health insurance providers, such as Cigna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, when in fact, they were from short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans offered by lesser known entities.  Moreover, Rising Eagle allegedly continued to make the calls after receiving multiple warnings that the calls were unlawful and generating complaints. 

The spoofed calls not only targeted Do Not Call list participants but also wireless phones without prior consumer consent, causing companies whose caller IDs were spoofed to receive angry call-backs from distressed consumers, according to the FCC.  The voluminous calls also allegedly caused one company’s telephone network to become unusable, and another to receive several lawsuits because its number was spoofed.

FCC Press Release | FCC Documents | Notice of Apparent Liability of Forfeiture