FCC Good at Assessing Robocall Fines, Not So Great At Collecting: Report

The Federal Communications Commission has assessed more than $208 million in fines against companies accused of making illegal robocalls since 2015, but have only collected $6,790 of that amount, according to a published report. Maybe it should outsource the collection to a third-party agency? 🙂

In fact, the FCC hasn’t collected a dime in fines assessed to illegal robocalls since Ajit Pai became chairman of the agency in 2017, according to the report. The agency has levied $202 million in fines in that same timespan.

The FCC has been great at making headlines for assessing huge fines — such as a $120 million penalty that was levied toward an individual accused of making 96 million robocalls, but has not collected any of that money.

Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission, which is also tasked with enforcement against robocallers, has collected $121 million of $1.5 billion assessed in fines and penalties.

Companies accused of making illegal robocalls are small and are easy to close up and re-open under new names, according to the report. They also tend not to be too well-funded, which means there isn’t a lot of cash to recover when a fine is assessed.

From the report:

The dearth of financial penalties collected by the US government for violations of telemarketing and auto-dialing rules shows the limits the sister regulators [FCC and FTC] face in putting a stop to illegal robocalls. It also shows why the threat of large fines can fail to deter bad actors.

The FCC says it has referred any unpaid fines to the Justice Department, which has more power to collect than it does.

Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the five commissioners on the FCC, took to Twitter to express her frustration.

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