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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Ohio AG, FCC take action against robocall operation

State Issues Federal Issues Ohio Enforcement VoIP Robocalls State Attorney General

State Issues

On July 7, the Ohio attorney general filed a complaint against multiple companies for participating in an alleged unwanted car warranty call operation. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for Southern District of Ohio, alleged that the 22 named defendants “participated in an unlawful robocall operation that bombarded American consumers with billions of robocalls.” Specifically, the complaint alleged that the defendants “initiated over 77 million robocalls per day for the purpose of generating sales leads, many times in relation to the sale of Vehicle Service Contracts (‘VSCs’) that are deceptively marketed as ‘car warranty’ plans,” totaling at least 800 million call attempts. The defendants allegedly violated the TSR, the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, and the Ohio Telephone Solicitation Sales Act by, among other things: (i) deceptively representing the subject of the call; (ii) misrepresenting caller IDs, or “spoofing”; and (iii) acting as telephone solicitors without having registered as telephone solicitors with the Ohio AG’s Office, as required by law, and without having obtained and filed the required surety bond. The lawsuit coincided with the FCC’s announcement of actions taken to decrease robocalls, including sending cease and desist letters to several carriers in an attempt “to cut off a flood of possibly illegal robocalls marketing auto warranties targeting billions of consumers.” The announcement also noted that the FCC has authorized “all U.S.-based voice service providers to cease carrying any traffic originating from the [named] operation consistent with FCC regulations,” as detailed in a public notice to all U.S.-based voice service providers.