Whenever your phone rings and you get a recorded message instead of a real person, that’s considered a robocall. There’s been a large increase in illegal robocalls lately thanks to internet-powered phone systems, which make it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world. Despite scammers spoofing numbers and using fake caller ID info to trick law enforcement, the FTC has brought more than 100 lawsuits against companies and individuals responsible for billions of illegal robocalls and Do Not Call violations. It’s not just illegal scammers bending the rules, though. Some large corporations are getting punished for failing to show compliance with do-not-call laws.
Dish Network Corp. is one such company that’s having to answer for its sins – to the tune of a record-breaking $280 million – for using robocalls to call consumers on the Do Not Call list. The U.S. government and four states sued Dish in 2009, alleging the company had made more than 55 million illegal calls. They were ruled guilty last week by U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough; Now, they’ll be paying $168 million to the federal government and $84 million to California, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio for federal law violations (source). They’ll also be dishing out an additional $28 million to California, North Carolina, and Ohio for violations of state law. While it’s a record fine for telemarketing violations, it’s still a far cry from the $1.1 billion they faced originally. If you’re worried that they’re getting off easy, don’t. Going forward, Dish will be prohibited from violating any do-not-call laws and will be under supervision for violations of such for the next 20 years.
Dish, of course, disagrees with the ruling and will appeal it, stating contractors and subcontractors were to blame for 90 percent of the bad calls. While they claim they fired the offending contractors when they learned of illegal activity, the judge ruled they knew of the violations and “did nothing,” showing little concern with compliance. The government called Dish a “serial telemarketing violator,” which is why the judge put pressure on marketing personnel from reverting to old practices of skipping around the rules. Cases like these are meant to set an example for others, to send a clear message to businesses to comply with do-not-call rules.
So this brings up the question: how can companies ensure they’re reaching the proper people without bending the rules? First Orion is currently working with companies to provide solutions for connecting consumer and business. First Orion Network Enterprise Solutions, or FONES, enables carriers to offer consumers protection for their phone calls AND enables carriers to leverage network assets for revenue growth. This “safe to call, safe to answer” approach provides consumers with information on the company about who is calling and why, while businesses reach the right people at the right time. Without these steps, it is increasingly likely that businesses who employ telemarketing campaigns could incur steep penalties from the government for violating rules as they attempt to market to consumers on their phones.