Federal Deception Law
Covers key federal standards preventing marketplace deception and federal and parallel state remedies for violations. Special chapter on the TCPA.
Robocalls compromise privacy and public safety, undermine the federal Lifeline telecommunications program by using up low-income consumers’ limited minutes, and subject vulnerable consumers to harassing and intrusive telemarketing and debt collection tactics. NCLC works to defend and strengthen consumer laws, particularly the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), to protect consumers from abusive and illegal practices.
Take Action: Tell the FCC and Congress to keep strong rules in place to stop these unwanted robocalls to cell phones.
State-by-State Robocall Data (2018)
The problem is worse than it seems. Hover over your state on the map below to see just how many robocalls were made to your friends and neighbors last year (total appears below the map). Many of these calls were made illegally, to cell phones without consent.
Source: YouMail, Robocall Index (2018)
The Federal Communications Commission has taken aim at scam and spoofed (disguised number) calls but receives frequent requests for exemptions from consumer protection laws from some of the largest banks, telemarketers, and debt collectors. Data shows that large banks and credit card companies consistently rank among the top sources of robocalls. Legitimate businesses making illegal calls to cell phones without consent has led to 2018 being the worst year on record for robocalls.
* Companies appearing more than once made outbound calls from multiple numbers
Source: YouMail, Robocall Index (2019)
Take Action! Have you or a loved one been harassed by a bank or debt collector with robocalls to your cell phone? Help #EndRobocalls.
Tell the FCC and Congress to keep strong rules in place to stop these unwanted robocalls to cell phones.
- Six Top Tips for Consumers to Stop Illegal Robocalls, May 2018
- Robocallers: Uninvited Guests (Video), March 2018
- Wrong Numbers, Bankruptcies, and a Quadruple Bypass: Robocalls from Creditors Don’t Stop, October 2018
- Enraged Relatives, Settled Debts, and Wrong Number Calls: Too Many Illegal Debt Collection Robocalls Go Unchecked, October 2018
- Without Consent, Navient’s Student Debt Collection Robocalls Keep Coming, October 2018
- 4/26/19 New York Times “Phone Companies Are Testing Tech to Catch Spam Calls. Let’s Hope It Works.” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders
- 3/28/19 Wall Street Journal “The FCC Has Fined Robocallers $208 Million. It’s Collected $6,790.” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders
- 3/27/19 Washington Post “Why are we getting so many robocalls?” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders
- 3/16/19 CNBC “Robocalls about your bills can pour in every day, all day” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders
- 11/9/18 CNN “Rules against robocalls shouldn’t be loosened” by NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders
- 10/31/18 Mercury News “Robocalls gone wild end up costing California debt collector $9 million“
- 10/15/18 MarketWatch “Robocall debt collectors see new opportunity under Trump’s FCC” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders
- 8/6/18 CNBC “Don’t pick up (or maybe you should): That annoying robocall could be about your student loans” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders
- 7/17/18 Washington Post “Robo-calls are getting worse. And some big businesses soon could start calling you even more.” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders
- 7/5/18 Detroit Free Press “Could a tsunami of robocalls be headed to our cell phones?” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders
- 6/12/18 Forbes “There Were 4.1 Billion Robocalls Dialed in the U.S. Last Month“ quotes NCLC deputy director Carolyn Carter
- 5/24/18 BYU Radio “Robocalls on the Rise“ NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders joins Julie Rose for her “Top of Mind” broadcast to discuss the rising toll robocalls take on consumer privacy and what can be done to stop them.
- 5/18/18 Vice: Motherboard “Our Robocall Hell Is a Result of Inconsistent Enforcement and Carrier Apathy” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders discusses the failure of telephone service providers and regulators to do enough to stop robocalls.
- 5/16/18 Slate “There Are Two Big Reasons Robocalls Are Getting Worse” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders and explains the FCC’s mistake in only addressing scam robocalls “while largely ignoring the aggressive robocalling behavior of legitimate businesses.”
- 1/17/18 NBC News “It’s not just you–Americans received 30 billion robocalls last year” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders on the volume of robocalls and company’s efforts to amend the rules to make even more robocalls.
- 11/20/17 WIRED “The Robocall Nightmare Is Only Getting Worse–But Help Is Here” quotes NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders on the prevalence of unwanted robocalls from banks and debt collectors while the FCC remains focused on scam calls.
- 6/26/17 The Hill “Consumers Need Strong Protections from Robocalls” by NCLC Senior Counsel Margot Saunders.
Policy Briefs, Reports & Press Releases
- Press Statement: FCC Approves Phone Companies Proactively Blocking Robocalls, June 6, 2019
- Press Release: Legislation to Shut Down Unwanted Robocalls Reintroduced, Feb. 4, 2019
- Press release: Consumer Groups Urge Action on Bipartisan Legislation to Stop Misleading “Spoofed” Robocalls, Jan. 17, 2019
- Press Release: FCC Issues Proposed Order to Reduce Wrong Number Robocalls, Nov. 21, 2018
- Press Release: Consumer Groups Welcome Bipartisan Legislation to Stop Misleading “Spoofed” Robocalls, Nov. 16, 2018
- Press Release: Bipartisan Robocall Issue Draws Contrasting Response in U.S. Senate, Aug. 2, 2018
- Press release: Banks, Mortgage Servicers, Student Lenders, and Auto Dealers Push FCC to Weaken Consumer Protections from Unwanted Robocalls, June 26, 2018
- Press release: As Robocall Volume Breaks Records, FCC Could Open the Floodgates to Even More Robocalls, June 7, 2018
- Press release: NCLC Attorney Margot Saunders Testifies at U.S. Senate Hearing on Stopping Abusive Robocalls; Urges FCC to Strengthen Key Federal Privacy Law, April 18, 2018
- Press release: D.C. Court Decision: Ball is Now in FCC Chairman Pai’s Court to Protect Consumers from Robocalls, March 16, 2018
- Press release: Advocates to FCC: Do More, Much More to Block Unwanted Robocalls, Feb. 23, 2018
- Press release: Robocall Problem Even Worse than FTC Data Shows, Jan. 4, 2018
More policy briefs, reports & press releases >>>
Comments and Testimony
- Testimony of NCLC Attorney Margot Saunders before the U.S. House on Legislating to Step the Onslaught of Annoying Robocalls, April 30, 2019; Press Release
- Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding Illegal Robocalls: Calling All To Stop The Scourge, April 11, 2019; Press Release
Group comments opposing NorthStar Alarm Services, LLC’s Petition to the FCC for Expedited Declaratory Ruling under the TCPA, March 15, 2019
- Group comments to the FCC Opposing the Petition for Declaratory Ruling Filed by SGS North America re: Telemarketing Robocalls, Jan. 24, 2019
- NCLC Comments to the FCC on the 9th Circuit Marks Decision, Oct. 17, 2018; Group ex-parte supplemental comments, Nov. 13, 2018
- Group comments to the FCC re: Rules and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Interpretations in Light of the D.C. Circuit‘s ACA International Decision (CG Docket No. 02-278 and CG Docket No. 18-152), June 13, 2018 and Reply comments; Ex Parte Comments to the FCC, relating to the use of reasonable reliance as a defense to wrong number calls, Jan. 28, 2019
- Consumer groups comments to the FCC in support of the FCC’s consideration of the creation of a reassigned number database, May 29, 2018
- Testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the Escalating Problem of Unwanted Robocalls and What To Do About It, April 18, 2018
- Consumer groups comments to the FCC re: Advanced Methods to to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls, Feb. 22, 2018
- Consumer group comments to the FCC re: Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls, Jan. 23, 2018
- Ex Parte to supplement the comments filed with the FCC In re Rules and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Interpretations in Light of the ACA International Decision, Jan. 28, 2019
- Ex Parte regarding meeting between 5 consumer groups and Chairman Pai’s staff regarding pending interpretations of critical terms under the TCPA, Sept. 19, 2018
- Group letter urging FCC to Initiate Enforcement Action Against Navient for Violations of the TCPA, June 14, 2017 Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2
- Group letter to U.S. Senate supporting S 3026 ROBOCOP Act to reduce robocall abuses and opposing S 2644 FCC Reauthorization Act to weaken TCPA, Nov. 15, 2016
- Letter to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology supporting HR 4932 (Robocop Act), Sept. 22, 2016
- Amicus brief in Evans v Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District) arguing that the definition of automated telephone dialing systems (ATDS) under the TCPA should include devices that are able to store numbers and redial them automatically, April 1, 2019
- Amicus brief in Glasser v Hilton Grand Vacations Company, LLC. (Federal District Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District) arguing that a robocalling telemarketer should not be permitted to evade the consumer protections of the TCPA by inserting a useless dialing agent in the middle of the process, January 24, 2019