Robocalls and other automated scams are commonplace for millions of Americans. But as tougher rules arrive and the FCC is set to hit the caller bot operation with a $116 million fine, the agency wants to beef up its enforcement with the ability to sue itself. scammers to justice.
?This fine is significant,? Rosenworcel said in a statement accompanying the fine announcement. ?But it also draws attention to the fact that we need new rules of the game.?
The FCC, like the FTC and other agencies, has the authority to set and award fines or other financial damages, it does not collect them itself. Instead, he hands over all the documents to the Department of Justice, which takes care of it from there. One problem: those who receive a fine sometimes get away with paying only a fraction of the amount.
As we saw a few years ago with another major robocall penalty, this one returned by the FTC, a $5 million payout was reduced to $18,332 and the proceeds from the sale of the crook?s car. In 2020, Rosenworcel lamented that the FCC imposed hundreds of millions in fines and collected? $6,790. Part of that, she said, was due to a ?refusal? by the DOJ to pursue the cases.
The FCC investigates robocall operations, issues cease-and-desist letters, and coordinates a nationwide resource-sharing group with 41 state attorneys general. But ultimately, it still has to go through the courts, and that?s something the agency seems to be getting tired of.
?We have imposed many fines like this. But after that, we must hand them over to our colleagues in the Ministry and Justice and hope for further action,? Rosenworcel said in its statement. ?I love hope. But instead of wishing for the best, I would like to know that this agency can go directly to the courts and collect fines against these bad actors, every single one of them. This will require a change in the law and we need Congress to fix it. But I think it?s a robocall change worth fighting for.
Unfortunately, Congress is probably too at war with itself right now to pass the kind of executive-empowering legislation that would be needed here. But hopefully the FCC doesn?t have to wait too long before it can start making the law itself.
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