Photo: Pixabay

The Federal Trade Commission says it has stopped four robocalling outfits responsible for spamming U.S. consumers with billions of illegal and predatory calls, getting them to agree to stop using automatic dialers and collectively pay millions of dollars.

The FTC said Tuesday that the nature of the calls ranged from spam like auto warranty pitches to scams like fake veterans’ charities. According to the agency, Higher Goals Marketing, Veterans of America, Pointbreak Media, and NetDotSolutions agreed to settlements over their alleged illegal robocalling schemes. NetDotSolutions alone was responsible for over a billion calls per year, according to the FTC.

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Pointbreak Media was accused of duping small businesses by both claiming to be associated with Google and claiming that it could influence Google search positions. The FTC’s complaint against Higher Goals Marketing, meanwhile, alleged that it promised debt-relief services that were “rarely, if ever, able to deliver the promised results.” And another operation, Veterans of America, allegedly solicited all manner of donations—including cars and boats—to a fake charity before turning around and selling those goods.

While it feels good to know the kinds of operations that continue to attempt to dupe consumers are facing government intervention, robocalls like these continue to plague Americans. And as the above examples show, some robocalls aren’t just a pain in the ass—they can cause real harm.

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission slapped a single individual responsible for roughly 96 million robocalls to consumers with a record fine of $120 million. But that massive fine didn’t do much to hinder the problem. A Hiya report published earlier this year found that the number of robocalls placed to U.S. phone numbers in 2018 hiked 46 percent from the year before—more than 26 billion calls in total.

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Last year, following mounting pressure, the FCC effectively told carriers to step it up and enforce caller ID authentication or face “regulatory intervention.” According to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, some are playing ball and are poised to establish better authentication systems before the end of the year. So there’s that.

[FTC via The Verge]