Die, Robocallers, Die!

Attorney General Mark R. Herring has filed suit against two Roanoke-based telemarketing companies, charging them with illegal robocalling and deceptive sales practices. The complaint alleges that Roanoker Bryant Cass and his companies, Aventis, Inc., and Skyline Metrics, LLC, made 586,870 unsolicited robocalls nationwide between 2014 and 2017, pitching car-selling services to people who listed cars for sale on Craiglist, Autotrader.com and other sites.

“While robocalls are extremely annoying, they can also be dangerous and could potentially scam Virginians out of hundreds if not thousands of dollars,” said Herring in a press release. “My team and I will continue to do everything we can to protect consumers and shut illegal robocall operations like this one down.”

Bacon’s bottom line: I’m not a fan of Herring, but he’s got my full support on this one. As punishment, $500-per-call fines are inadequate. Cass should be confined to a cell and forced to endure his 586,870 robocall sales pitches through the rest of his natural life. And if there were a way to pump the robocalls into hell, I’d be for that, too.

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16 responses to “Die, Robocallers, Die!

  1. Another job opportunity for low skill workers shutting down or going overseas? But like you, Jim, I hate this process.

    An insurance consultant recently explained a very dangerous situation he sees. People approaching 65 get this flood of calls (trust me, I now know) selling medi-gap policies. The pigeon, er customer, buys the plan, gets the card, and thinks he or she has actual Medicare. They show up at the doc’s or pharmacy and present the card and find out they have zero coverage, because of course the medi-gap policy only supplements the main coverage. No main coverage, no supplement. Something the sales person didn’t tell them while counting their commission.

  2. My spouse and I hit the magic Medicare number (65) and we started getting, I dunno, maybe 30 calls a day. Also it hit my iPhone for the first time. Nothing but all junk on my caller list. Our provider Cox did not have Nomorobo, but I think now they have it…we had to get a new modem. Tapering off but still bad.

    My 90 yr old mother years ago reacted to a computer repair phishing, and she gets abusive calls from India almost daily warning her to pay up, for years.

  3. I don’t like robocalls either. However, there is a difference between scam robocalls and plain old annoying robocalls. The former should be prosecuted. The latter should be blocked at the recipient’s discretion.

    I get scam calls all the time. The Social Security Administration has issued a warrant for my arrest. The first time I got that call I called back expecting to reach LarrytheG. Lol.

    Here’s my plan. Any boating store will sell a portable air horn. Compressed air powers a screeching horn when a button is pressed. It is extremely loud and meant to signal other boats while out on the water. Buy one. The next time you get a robocall … answer it. Wait until a person gets on the line. Engage the person in conversation. Put the mini-megaphone part of the portable air horn to the speaker on your phone and press the button. Can you hear me now?

    • The air horn may give me satisfaction, but it does not get at the person behind the robocall, just the poor schmuck on the other end trying to make a buck.

      • True but if they are working a scam robocall then they are complicit in the scam.

        Here’s a voice mail I got from Area code 430 …

        “This message is from the Social Security Administration. The reason to reach you is to let you know that your Social Security number is going to be suspended by law enforcement agencies immediately. Before anything goes wrong give us a call back as soon as possible.”

        It was a recorded message. A call back will reach a real scammer.

        Get out the air horn!

        Area code 430 is North East Texas.

  4. Why robocalls?

    The world is full of crooks.

    Wireless and VoIP technology have brought down the cost of making calls.

    The FCC, under both the Obama and Trump administrations, has reduced terminating access charges, except in rural markets, to zero. There used to be a charge in mills to terminate a long distance calls, including international calls. AT&T and Verizon successfully lobbied for zero-rating terminating calls. The zero charge access fee reduced the cost of making calls, especially from VoIP or wireless phones to next to nothing. Free sells well.

    The ease of spoofing the calling party number, disguising who is making the calls added virtual anonymity to robocallers. The proposed SHAKEN/STIR standard, if adopted by telcos, can cut this way back.

    SHAKEN/STIR Governance Structure
    4 key entities 
    *Governance Authority (GA) – ATIS GA-STI sets overall rules 
    12 member board consisting of cross section of voice providers 
    *Policy Administrator (PA) – iconectiv. Implements the rules and identifies trusted certification authorities 
    *Certification Authorities (CAs) – being selected. Issue certificates (or tokens) to service providers 
    *Service Providers – Obtain certificates, originating providers attest to number authenticity, terminating providers confirm authenticity

    Presumably, calls without proper authentication will be blocked.

  5. Okay, so here’s another area where we can choose to NOT have the govt involved and just deal with it ourselves – or we can whine and demand that the govt do something about it.

    How wait… isn’t there a “Do not Call” thing from the FCC?

    How many whiners here?

    After all – it’s just Free Speech, right?

    Some might be surprised at ‘who; the robocallers are and how they can call even if they are on the “do not call” list.

    Some are charities… Red Cross is one… but others are your own legitimate companies you do business with – they sell your contact info and demographic data. Or on your phone or even on your computer – ever hear of “cookies”?

    Oh.. and did one know that the post office sells your address and the census provides you demographic data and clever data miners can and DO get your name and phone to go with the zip code and demographic data!

    So.. is this a “government” problem – should govt help citizens deal with it? Is this a legitimate role of govt?

    • Interstate communications have been regulated by the federal government since the days of the Mann-Elkins Act amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act in 1910. In 1934, jurisdiction was transferred to the new FCC. Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a number of interstate services have been deregulated; others remain regulated. Congress also passed specific legislation to deal with telemarketing calls of which robocalls are a part of.

  6. Yes, but we have this new era where folks are saying that the govt is taking their money for taxes instead of letting them keep their money and spend it “better”.

    So is this one of those areas where we should not be taking taxes from people for the govt to spend?

    Should we be paying taxes to the govt to protect us from being “annoyed”?

    yes or no?

  7. Robocalls are not mere annoyance. Most are directed at fraud. There is no reason to call people over and over again except to pitch credit card relief that doesn’t come; or additional Medicare benefits that don’t exist; or clearing the non-existing viruses on computers for a free; or threats of criminal prosecution from the IRS that can be settled with Visa gift cards.

  8. Oh I agree fraud is fraud and is illegal but it COULD be (and is) dealt with as a civil law issue rather than a Govt crime….. but do we want the govt to outlaw ALL calls because SOME of them MIGHT be fraud?

    That seems to be a stretch.

    We keep hearing from Conservatives that Govt is doing all kinds of stuff that the Constitution never called for – is this one of those things?

    • Robocalling is not a crime. It’s a violation of the Communications Act and is subject to both civil forfeitures as determined by the FCC and statutory damages in private lawsuits. There is a bill in the Senate, sponsored by Democrats, that would criminalize certain conduct in connection with robocalls. There is a bipartisan bill in the House that would require the FCC to report certain egregious cases to the Attorney General.

    • How about outlawing calls with fraudulent caller-ID information?

      Is there EVER a legitimate reason to spoof caller-ID information with a number that (1) is not yours (2) cannot be used to call you back?

      Would it be safe to say that a call with spoofed caller-ID information is almost certainly an attempt at fraud?

      • If and when carriers and VoIP providers implement SHAKEN/STIR, it will be very hard, if even possible, to engage in wholesale Caller ID spoofing. The originating service provider will have to certify in the signaling message that the calling party’s TN is valid for that line and downstream carriers will need to check the certification.

  9. Larry, give it a rest. If I thought you were sincere, I might bother to listen. But you aren’t, so just please go away.

  10. Oh Crazy, I AM sincere guy(gal?) – it’s a real question as to what the role of govt should or should not be in a forum where I have heard folks – almost concurrently question Government’s role in some things not explicitly granted in the Constitution but then go full bore into demanding that the govt do something about “annoying” stuff.

    So we say that campaign money is “free speech” but phone calls for solicitation are “annoying”. The govt can’t touch “free speech” money in politics but it can stop the “free speech” of robo-callers???

    I just see these contradictions sometimes and call them out to illustrate just how conflicted we are about the proper role of govt – sometimes.

    We just received a lecture here that everytime the govt taxes you – it’s taking money out of your pocket that you could spend “better”.

    So I ask – do we want the govt to take money out of our pockets to stop robocalls or should we use that money ourselves to stop robocalls ourselves ?

    I don’t think asking that question is insincere given the many times her in BR I’ve heard the “govt taking your money” and “hurting the economy” narrative.

    So that seems to be a contradictory thing…we want less govt and lower taxes …until we want more govt but don’t want to be taxed for it.

    very confusing… and I keep hoping you will set me straight on this….

    😉

    We have folks who say that the govt should not be doing something that is not explicitly in the Constitution – have read that here in BR from commenters.

    So it’s a contrarian / devils’ advocate type question, I admit, but it’s also a perfectly legitimate question to elicit from those who do say they support a “limited” govt if their idea of “limited” means for the govt to stop “annoying” calls ( some of which MAY be fraudulent).

    If folks believe it IS the role of govt to do this – then I can easily think of a whole lot of other things that are similar!!!

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