FCC Takes Action Against Political Robocallers for Dialing Cell Phones

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-03-16 Print this article Print

These robocalling companies already know that they’re operating on the far edge of the law, and they have a number of ways that they think they can avoid being caught, or if caught, then fined.

Dialing Services, for example, says in its Terms of Use that it’s up to the customer to make sure that Dialing Services obeys the law, and that the customer will pay any fines. In addition, the company has an indemnification clause that lets the company take over the defense for violating the law, and then charge you for the cost. Apparently, the FCC wasn’t impressed and filed the citations against Dialing Services and Democratic Dialing anyway.

The reason for this is that the FCC holds the party actually making the phone call responsible for ensuring the call is lawful. Even if one of the company’s customers sent a boatload of cell phone numbers over to the robocaller, it’s the robocaller’s job to make sure the calls are legal.

Another thing you’ll notice in the citations is that these companies try to fly under the radar by using a lot of company names as fronts. The FCC provides a long list. If this seems familiar, think of those cheap buses that make the run between New York and Boston and change the company name every time they’re cited for doing something illegal or after they have a serious accident. Meanwhile, passengers on these buses routinely die on the interstates because the bus company skirted the law.

Fortunately, robocalling isn’t fatal, and it doesn’t appear that the companies that the FCC cited actually called any emergency numbers during their political campaigning. But the fact is it’s against the law to call cell phones without permission.

While it’s possible that the companies may contend that they were confused by the rules since it is legal to call landlines with political calls, the fact is that the lists of wireless numbers are readily available. The companies involved clearly have the legal staffs necessary to look this stuff up. But they don’t because they’re getting paid to make calls, and until now there wasn’t much of a downside to breaking the law. Now there’s a downside.

Since the robocalls probably won’t stop even with these citations, an FCC spokesperson told eWEEK in an email that anyone who gets such a call should go to the FCC’s Complaints Website, and be able to provide the wireless number that was called, the fact that it WAS a wireless number and who their wireless carrier is. Yes, I know one call won’t make a lot of difference, but it could be the one call that puts the full force of the FCC’s citations info effect and helps balance the budget all at once.


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