US Firm Fined for Making Automated Calls to Mobile Phones
Published on: 9th May 2014
By: Ian Mansfield
The US regulator is imposing a fine of USD2.94 million on a company for allegedly making numerous illegal "robocalls" to mobile phones.
These robocalls contained artificial or prerecorded voice messages on behalf of political campaigns and candidates. The Commission had previously cited the company, Dialing Services LCC for making more than 4.7 million robocalls to mobile phones without consumer permission during the 2012 election cycle.
"Robocalling cell phones without a consumer's consent is not only annoying, it is unlawful," said Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. "The FCC is committed to protecting consumers from harassing, intrusive, and unwanted robocalls to cell phones, smart phones, and other mobile devices."
Dialing Services, LLC, of Roswell, NM, operates a website that offers robocalling services to third-party "clients," including political candidates. These clients pay Dialing Services to make calls that deliver an artificial or prerecorded voice message to telephone numbers of the clients' choosing. The company advertises that through its services, its clients can "Reach thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of customers with your personal message."
In March 2013, Dialing Services received a citation from the Enforcement Bureau for making more than 4.7 million robocalls to mobile phones without consumers' permission during the 2012 election cycle. The Bureau warned Dialing Services that if the company continued to make unlawful robocalls in the future, it could be held liable for penalties up to $16,000 per call. The Commission has now found that Dialing Services apparently continued to engage in the same practice, making at least 184 additional robocalls to consumers' mobile phones. The $2,944,000 fine is the maximum penalty for these 184 calls.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, enacted by Congress in 1991, outlaws robocalls to mobile phones except in two limited circumstances: (1) calls made for emergency purposes, or (2) calls made with the prior express consent of the called party. There is no general exception for political calls to mobile phones.