Three call service companies recently received citations from the Federal Communications Commission for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and the possibility of significant penalties.
Call-Em-All LLC, Ifonoclast, and M.J. Ross Group were each instructed by the agency to stop making robocalls using an automated telephone dialing service to call consumers’ cellphones with prerecorded messages without first obtaining their prior consent.
In the Call-Em-All case, the FCC noted that the company offers a robocalling service where clients can upload an audio file to be sent to a list of numbers, or use the company’s software to convert text into speech for a prerecorded message. For a fee, Call-Em-All will send the message to a telephone list provided by the client, that includes employees of employment staffing firms, youth sports leagues, and schools and churches.
The Telecommunications Consumers Division of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau sent the company a letter of inquiry to request a list of the telephone numbers dialed by Call-Em-All for a two-week period in October 2012 with relevant dates and times, as well as the sound files of the delivered messages.
A review of the data revealed more than 55,000 autodialed or prerecorded message calls were made to cellphones in violation of the statute, the agency said. The FCC also listened to over 300 sound files from the same time period and found “most were recorded by the Company’s clients for either political or advertising purposes and none indicated that the Company made the calls for an emergency purpose.”
The FCC then randomly chose 10 of the cellphone numbers that received a prerecorded message from Call-Em-All and spoke with each call recipient. “Without exception, each recipient denied giving anyone permission to robocall their respective cellphones at any time,” the FCC said. “This further shows that Call-Em-All did not have the prior express consent of these called parties to make an autodialed, prerecorded call to their mobile phone.”
Similar violations were found when the Commission reviewed data from Ifonoclast and M.J. Ross. For example, Ifonoclast made 3,542 non-consenting prerecorded calls between September 1, 2012, and February 8, 2013, with messages seeking a vote for a political candidate or endorsing a candidate for office, while M.J. Ross made 293 autodialed calls in violation of the statute between September 1, 2012, and March 6, 2013, the agency said.
To read the citation and order in In the Matter of Call-Em-All, click here.
To read the citation and order in In the Matter of Ifonoclast, click here.
To read the citation and order in In the Matter of M.J. Ross Group, click here.
Why it matters: The three companies were given 30 calendar days to respond to the citations. Future violations of the TCPA could result in sanctions including monetary penalties up to $16,000 per call, the FCC cautioned.