FCC cracks down on robocalls, imposes unprecedented fines

At least three calls a day, every day.

That’s how many robocalls Anesha Jones of Harrison Twp. deals with.

“They are very annoying,” she said. “I pretty much block them.”

But Jones has noticed that they are getting sneaky.

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“Some of them are getting smart now and are starting to use the area code,” she said. “I block those too.”

Experts say that robocallers are nearly impossible to trace because they spoof phone numbers and often operate overseas.

But now the FCC is cracking down.

In one of the largest fines the FCC has imposed, Philip Roesel, Wilmington Insurance Quotes and Best Insurance Contracts were ordered to pay $82 million for making 21 million robocalls.

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The FCC said Affordable Enterprises of Arizona was discovered through a whistleblower. It faces a $37.5 million proposed fine for two million robocalls.

“As a person who has received about 50 robocalls in the last week, I’m very anxious to see 10s of millions of dollars in fines levied against these people,” said Randy Sparks, professor of marketing at University of Dayton.

Sparks said that for most people, robocalls are an annoyance, but their purpose is insidious.

“The real problem — and what makes these fines important — is that there are people out there who are vulnerable, and these people wind up being ripped off,” Sparks said.

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People in the Miami Valley region seemed to hope to see more action against robocallers.

“That’s a good thing,” said Zurail Payne of Dayton. “They need to crack down on more because they keep coming in.”

The FCC is now allowing phone companies to proactively block calls that are likely fraudulent, and they are working on an authentication system to verify caller ID information.

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