There, I said it. The FTC isn’t doing enough to stop illegal robocalls.
Robocalls exploded for me just a few months ago, and I think they did so for everyone else on the planet—or at least in North America—at the same time. I used to get a few annoying ones now and then, but now they come in on average 1 to 1.5 times a day, counting my home phone and cell phone both. This morning I got a nice little surprise: the robo-scammers randomly called my business phone—which isn’t publicly listed anywhere to my knowledge—which rang through to my cell via Google Voice.
If it’s not Rachel or Sara from card services promising me a lower interest rate, it’s Heather from the vehicle warranty center, or some other heinous creep trying to steal my money. And that’s just the robocalls! Although the Indian Windows tech support scammers have slowed way down, they haven’t stopped completely. But the robocalls have increased in frequency by a dramatic degree, so these days they’re the big problem.
I did some Googling to find out if the FTC is doing anything about this. Well, good news. There’s an article from frickin’ January that says they took down two massive robocall organizations.
Except they didn’t.
It’s pretty obvious from my own timeline that the robocall escalation started around March, which means it happened after the FTC supposedly made a huge dent in the problem.
What actually happened with the FTC was that they filed a lawsuit, and got the defendants to agree to stop robocalling. That’s right, a voluntary agreement, albeit signed under force of law. So basically you have these criminals running wild doing whatever the frell they want, and when the FTC finally gets around to busting them, they go to civil court instead of criminal court, and get the defendants to sign a paper saying “We acknowledge we’re doing highly illegal crap but we pinky swear we’re not going to do it anymore. WINK.”
This is like if the police busted up a drug supplier, and instead of hauling the dealers off to jail they filed lawsuits and made them promise not to sell drugs anymore. If they were willing to break the law in the first place, they’re obviously going to break the agreement. Duh!
This is disgraceful. An absolute joke, and I’m disgusted my taxpayer dollars were wasted on such a mealy-mouthed “solution” that, if anything, made the problem literally ten times worse.
Listen up, you clowns. Your job is to make a federal criminal case against these companies, the people who run them, the people who work for them and are knowingly in on the scams, and the people who hire them to perform scams. They’re not only violating all kinds of criminal laws just with their phone abuse, but they’re committing actual fraud that can be prosecuted. That means you take it to criminal court, stupid, not to civil court, and you don’t settle for a dumbass “promise” to stop doing what they’re doing. You make sure the co-conspirators, all of them except those who turn state’s evidence, rot in jail and then in prison.
I want police raids on these companies. Tear apart their call centers. Arrest everybody, including the voice actors behind the audio. Seize financial assets. Seize financial records and follow the money, then arrest those people too. Hand out immunity to anyone who cooperates and wasn’t so big a part of it that they still need to pay. Utterly destroy these companies until there is nothing left, and salt the earth where they stood. Rain down terror on anyone who participates in this, so that a generation from now anyone who so much as gets the idea of starting up a new robocall outfit will piss the bed screaming and flee to a remote corner of the world to die in obscurity.
This has to stop. I can think of many ways I’d like to see it come to a stop, and I’ll legalize them all when I become a supervillain, but until then I’ll more than happily settle for watching a big ol’ criminal court case against these choads, and seeing their empires of filth burn.
Meanwhile it’s time we hold the FTC’s feet to that same fire. It’s not acceptable to spend years going after a robocall group only to slap them on the wrist and send them away with a promise to do better. You’re not their mommy; you’re supposed to be the freaking scourge of the law. You could solve this problem in a trice by offering a bounty and immunity for any information leading to a criminal conviction, creating a world of whistleblowers who will give you all the information you need and then some. (You’d solve it much faster by offering a bounty on the heads of the people who run these scams and robocall centers, but I know, I know, it’s illegal. For now.) It can be done, and from where I’m sitting all I see after three months of radically increased call volume is a lack of will to do the job.