Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today joined officials from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to announce a new bipartisan crackdown on illegal telemarketing. Raoul and law enforcement partners across the country, including attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, are targeting illegal telemarketing operations responsible for billions of calls to U.S. consumers.
The joint state and federal “Operation Stop Scam Calls” initiative builds on the efforts of Illinois and other state and federal partners to combat the scourge of illegal telemarketing, including robocalls. This initiative focuses on telemarketers and the companies that hire them, as well as lead generators who deceptively collect and provide consumers’ telephone numbers to robocallers and others, falsely representing that these consumers have consented to receive calls. It also targets Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers who facilitate tens of billions of illegal robocalls every year, which often originate overseas.
“Unsolicited robocalls violate consumers’ privacy and unnecessarily cost them time and money. Companies responsible for these illegal, annoying calls must be held accountable,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. “I am proud of my office’s role in this robocall sweep with the Federal Trade Commission, law enforcement partners and my fellow attorneys general from across the country. I will continue to work to address this problem in Illinois and protect consumers’ rights by fighting against these unlawful and disruptive practices.”
“Today, government agencies at all levels are united in fighting the scourge of illegal telemarketing. We are taking action against those who trick people into phony consent to receive these calls and those who make it easy and cheap to place these calls,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, who appeared at a news conference in Chicago announcing the initiative. “The FTC and its law enforcement partners will not rest in the fight against illegal telemarketing.”
As part of Operation Stop Scam Calls, Raoul and a coalition of 48 attorneys general filed a lawsuit against Avid Telecom, its owner and vice president for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. According to Raoul and the coalition, Avid Telecom allegedly initiated, facilitated and transmitted more than 7.5 billion illegal robocalls to millions of people on the National Do Not Call Registry. Between December 2018 and January 2023, more than 290 million of those calls were to Illinois residents.
Attorney General Raoul has been a consistent advocate for protections against illegal robocalls. In 2022, Raoul joined a coalition of 33 attorneys general in filing a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending the anti-robocall provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. In 2019, Raoul, in cooperation with the FTC, announced a major crackdown on robocalls that included 94 actions targeting operations around the country that were responsible for more than 1 billion calls. Also in 2019, Raoul joined a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington D.C. in partnering with 12 phone companies to create a set of principles for telecom companies to fight robocalls. Raoul has also submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission urging the adoption of its proposed rules on enforcement against caller ID spoofing.
Today’s announcement is the result of collaboration between Illinois and its state and federal partners including the FTC, which announced five new cases against companies and individuals responsible for distributing or assisting in the distribution of billions of illegal telemarketing calls to consumers nationwide. Other contributing law enforcement agencies include the U.S. Department of Justice, Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Communications Commission.
In addition to the law enforcement actions announced today, the FTC has a variety of materials aimed at helping consumers block unwanted telemarketing calls. This includes advice related to robocalls and other unwanted calls and information on how to spot and avoid phone scams at ftc.gov/calls, which is also available in Spanish at ftc.gov/llamadas. The FTC also has a new educational webpage at ftc.gov/RobocallScams that includes examples of real illegal robocalls and steps people can take to avoid robocall scams.