States sue telecom company accused of making billions of robocalls to people on Do Not Call Registry
Attorneys general in states across the U.S. joined in a lawsuit Tuesday against a telecommunications company that is accused of making 7.5 billion illegal robocalls to millions of people on the Do Not Call Registry.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Arizona, against Avid Telecom, its owner Michael Lansky and Stacey Reeves, its vice president.
It alleges that they violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule and other federal and state telemarketing and consumer laws. The suit seeks a jury trial to determine damages.
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Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said that in the billions of calls to those individuals, Avid Telecom used spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls that appeared to be coming from government and law enforcement agencies and private companies.
"Every day, countless Arizona consumers are harassed and annoyed by a relentless barrage of unwanted robocalls – and in some instances these illegal calls threaten consumers with lawsuits and arrest," Mayes said in a statement. "More disturbingly, many of these calls are scams designed to pressure frightened consumers, often senior citizens, into handing over their hard-earned money. Such a blatant disregard for consumer protection laws will not be tolerated and violators of these laws will be held accountable."
Kris Mayes, then-Democratic candidate for Arizona Attorney General, speaks at a Women's March rally outside the State Capitol on Oct. 8, 2022, in Phoenix. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images / Getty Images)
The company also allegedly sent or transmitted scam calls about the Social Security Administration, Medicare, Amazon and DirecTV as well as auto warranties, employment and credit card interest rate reductions.
Mayes said that while the U.S. Telecom-led Industry Traceback Group, which notifies providers about known and suspected illegal robocalls sent across their networks, sent at least 329 notifications to Avid Telecom that it was transmitting these calls, the company continued to do so.
The attorneys general said Avid Telecom is a Voice over Internet Protocol service provider that sells data, phone numbers, dialing software and expertise to help customers make mass robocalls. Between December 2018 and January 2023, it facilitated more than 24.5 billion calls.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said, "Americans are sick and tired of their phones ringing off the hook with fraudulent robocalls." (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)
"Americans are sick and tired of their phones ringing off the hook with fraudulent robocalls," said New York Attorney General James. "Seniors and vulnerable consumers have been scammed out of millions because of these illegal robocalls. Today we are suing Avid Telecom for facilitating these annoying and illegal calls and for hurting ordinary Americans."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, "We will take this fight to all who assist or enable these scam calls. If the telecom industry refuses to create and comply with reasonable regulations, then our Task Force will demand compliance."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt talk to reporters on April 26, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The legal action arises from the nationwide, bipartisan Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force of 51 attorneys general and the District of Columbia. The task force was formed last year to investigate and take legal action against telecommunications companies routing volumes of robocall traffic.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General also provided investigative assistance in this matter.
Avid Telecom did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment on the matter, but the company's outside legal counsel, Neil Ende, told The Associated Press, "Contrary to the allegations in the complaint, Avid Telecom operates in a manner that is compliant with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations. The company has never been found by any court or regulatory authority to have transmitted unlawful traffic and it is prepared to meet with the attorneys general, as it has on many occasions in the past, to further demonstrate its good faith and lawful conduct.
"In this context, the company is disappointed that the attorneys’ general chose not to communicate their concerns directly before filing the lawsuit," Ende added. "While the company always prefers to work with regulators and law enforcement to address issues of concern, as necessary, the company will defend itself vigorously and vindicate its rights and reputation through the legal process."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.