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AG Nessel and Law Enforcers Nationwide Announce Enforcement Sweep to Stem the Tide of Illegal Telemarketing Calls to U.S. Consumers

LANSING – Michigan, along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other law enforcement partners nationwide, including attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, announced a new crackdown on illegal telemarketing targeting operations responsible for billions of calls to U.S. consumers.

The joint state and federal “Operation Stop Scam Calls” initiative builds on the efforts of Michigan and other state and federal partners to combat the scourge of illegal telemarketing, including robocalls. This initiative targets telemarketers and the companies that hire them as well as lead generators who deceptively collect and provide consumers’ telephone numbers to robocallers and others, falsely representing that these consumers have consented to receive calls. It also targets Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers who facilitate tens of billions of illegal robocalls every year, which often originate overseas.  

“Michigan residents received more than 1.2 billion robocalls in 2021, many of them illegal scam calls,” Nessel said. “But there has been a substantial reduction in the number of complaints reported to the FTC because our efforts to combat robocalls have resulted in an increase in the number of Michigan registrations on the Do Not Call List. Our Department’s Robocall Task Force, formed in 2019, has helped the national effort to reduce the number of unwanted calls Michigan residents receive. We have also shut down some robocall operations targeting Michigan and will continue to work to protect residents from these intrusive and often illegal calls.”

As part of “Operation Stop Scam Calls,” AG Nessel announced last month that she is suing Avid Telecom for allegedly initiating and facilitating billions of illegal robocalls to millions of people and violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and other telemarketing and consumer laws. Avid Telecom is alleged to have sent or transmitted more than 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.

AG Nessel also won judgments shutting down a massive, Texas-based robocall operation that, in 2019 alone, bombarded Michigan consumers with more than 42 million robocalls, including more than 19 million calls to people whose numbers were on the Do Not Call Registry.

“Government agencies at all levels are united in fighting the scourge of illegal telemarketing. We are taking action against those who trick people into phony consent to receive these calls and those who make it easy and cheap to place these calls,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, who appeared at a news conference in Chicago announcing the initiative. “The FTC and its law enforcement partners will not rest in the fight against illegal telemarketing.”

Michigan’s actions build on the work of its state and federal partners, including the FTC, which announced five new cases against companies and individuals responsible for distributing or assisting in the distribution of billions of illegal telemarketing calls to consumers nationwide. 

Other contributing law enforcers include the U.S. Department of Justice, the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Federal Communications Commission.

In addition to the law enforcement actions announced yesterday, the FTC has a variety of materials aimed at helping consumers block unwanted telemarketing calls on their website. This includes advice related to robocalls and other unwanted calls and information on how to spot and avoid phone scams. The information is available in Spanish on their website. The FTC also has a new educational webpage that includes examples of real illegal robocalls and steps people can take to avoid robocall scams.


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