When the FCC lets you off the hook with a warning after allegedly making 4.7 million illegal automated, recorded calls to cellphones, your best bet is to heed that warning or get out of the business. One company didn’t do either of these things and is now being fined $2.94 million.
While it’s legal to make political robocalls to landline phone numbers during an election campaign, it’s never legal to make a non-emergency robocall to a consumer’s wireless phone without his or her permission.
According to the FCC notice [PDF], Dialing Services, which offers robocalling service to third-party clients, was warned in 2013 that the company’s practices were in violation of the Communications Act for making more than 4.7 million non-emergency robocalls to cell phones without consent in just three months.
Dialing Services was warned that if it continued to make unlawful robocalls in the future, it could be held liable for penalties up to $16,000 per call.
Upon a second review, the FCC found that Dialing Services continued to engage in the same practice, making approximately 184 additional robocalls to consumer cellphone numbers. So the FCC has levied the maximum fine of $16,000 for each of those 184 calls, resulting in the $2.94 million penalty.
That may sound like (and is) a lot of money, but it’s only a drop in the bucket compared to the billions in penalties Dialing Services could have faced if it had been fined for the millions of allegedly illegal calls it made before the FCC warning.
“Robocalling cell phones without a consumer’s consent is not only annoying, it is unlawful,” Travis LeBlanc, Acting Chief of the Enforcement Bureau, says in a statement.
FCC to Fine Online Co. $2.9M for Political Robocalls to Cell Phones [Federal Communications Commission]