October 11, 2023

Operation Stop Scam Calls Targets Telemarketing Scams and Robocalls

Operation Stop Scam Calls Targets Telemarketing Scams and Robocalls

STIR/SHAKEN has helped stop call spoofing strategies that help scam callers take advantage of consumers. Despite the volume of scam calls falling by about 30% in recent years, scams remain the FCC’s top complaint.

What can government regulators and industry leaders do to improve consumer safety and confidence? Many hope that a new initiative called Operation Stop Scam Calls will have a significant impact. Some believe the operation even has the potential to eliminate scam calls and robocalls.

What Is Operation Stop Scam Calls?

Operation Stop Scam Calls includes efforts from the FCC, FTC, and more than 100 federal and state partners to combat telemarketing scams. The program investigates potential criminals targeting U.S. consumers with robocalls and scam calls. It goes a step further than previous programs by targeting VoIP (voice over internet protocol) providers that work with robocallers, including those operating outside of North America.

Previously, the government struggled to identify robocalls that originate overseas. The calls would typically receive low attestation ratings—one report shows that 37.6% of robocalls receive the lowest, C status, attestation. That means plenty of robocalls get higher attestation scores that make it easy for dialers to reach consumers. The report shows that 26.52% of robocalls receive B status and 3.42% receive A status, the highest attestation level.

Operation Stop Scam Calls will also target “consent farm” lead generators that intentionally trick U.S. consumers into saying they want to accept calls from telemarketers, some of which have criminal intentions.

FCC Targets “Consent Farm” Lead Generators

Consent farms are companies that use misleading information – and outright lies – to create lead lists they can sell to clients, including call centers and other businesses that generate revenues through outreach campaigns.

In the summer of 2023, the FTC and Department of Justice (DOJ) sued Fluent for using deceptive ads and websites that offer rewards the company couldn’t possibly fulfill. Some of the ads and websites promised free rewards from well-known brands like Amazon and Walmart. Fluent doesn’t have relationships with either of those companies. The U.S. government also accused Fluent of promising interviews for jobs that didn’t exist.

Fluent used these strategies to collect contact information from consumers. According to the government, Fluent then sold the leads to other companies. The consent farm might have made $93.4 million in 2018 and 2019 by selling at least 620 million leads.

Some of the numbers sold by Fluent are on the Do-Not-Call Registry. Companies that contact numbers on the registry could face fines in excess of $50,000 per call. The FTC wants Fluent to pay a $2.5 million civil fine and limit its future business practices.

Federal agencies have also proposed fines for Viceroy Media Solutions ($913,636), Yodel Technologies ($1 million), and Solar Xchange ($13.8 million). These and other companies have been accused of misleading consumers to collect and sell their contact information, among other related crimes.

Consent Farms Create Problems for Businesses and Consumers

Businesses that purchase leads from consent farms, whether knowingly or unknowingly, may face fraud and other criminal activities. These poor-quality leads can result in reaching out to numbers on the Do-Not-Call Registry and negative consumer responses. As more people report your number, it becomes more likely to receive blocks and negative labels, which discourage other consumers from answering your calls.

Operation Stop Scam Calls aims to make it harder for consent farms to operate, creating a more trustworthy environment for legal and seamless communication between companies and consumers over time.

Robocall Statistics in 2023

Robocalls obviously annoy consumers, but do they really cause serious problems for businesses? Robocall statistics for 2023 suggest that unwanted and scam calls degrade consumer trust and damage brand reputations.

Some of the most alarming statistics show that robocalls could contribute to:

  • Businesses losing $58 billion as subscribers separate from their services.
  • Consumers – and, therefore, the overall economy – losing $70 billion to scams.
  • The global economy losing nearly $48 billion to fraud.

Other statistics show that the average phone owner receives about 28 robocalls every month. Perhaps even more alarmingly, robocallers place about 2,700 calls per second!

Unfortunately, telemarketing scams and other illegal activities cost legitimate businesses a lot of money. Some industry experts expect robocall mitigation to cost $18.05 billion by the end of 2023. In other words, companies and government agencies lose enormous amounts of money fighting scam calls and robocalls.

Abiding by Ethical Lead Generation

As government agencies intensify their efforts against robocallers and telemarketing scams, businesses must take steps to protect their phone number reputations. By adopting ethical lead generation and dialing practices, businesses can ensure they meet high standards.

Monitoring your numbers for labels, flags, and blocks using Caller ID Reputation can also be beneficial. Learn more about how Caller ID Reputation can assist your business by signing up for a free trial.