Consumer Watchdog: FCC goes after telemarketers, drops the hammer on pre-paid calling card offenders

Consumer Watchdog - Joe Dolinsky

It was a busy week for the FCC.

More than just a bleep-inserting, black-box-placing, Super Bowl-halftime-show-policing censorship outlet, the Federal Communications Commission acts as the federal government’s eyes and ears when it comes to TV, radio, and other forms of media. And in an attempt to adjust to a rapidly evolving landscape, the FCC is aiming to modernize itself.

On Wednesday, officials announced the FCC will release robocall and telemarketing consumer complaint data each week in an attempt to help developers create, design and implement “do-not-disturb” technologies that allow customers to block unwanted calls or texts.

You know the kind. Me? I’ve been offered several free cruises. So annoying. Can’t a guy walk down the street without being offered a free vacation?

The data, including originating phone numbers of the telemarketers and automated robocalls we all know and love, will be released and available on the FCC’s Consumer Help Center’s website, the commission announced. The data can be found here:

And it gets better: Unlike most organizations, the FCC wants to hear your complaints.

Last year, they heard from over 215,000 consumers. That’s almost 600 per day. The input is vital to policy decisions and can be used by the commission’s enforcement bureau to track trends and enforce violations, officials said. In short, the FCC is making a concerted effort to tune in to the issues facing you, the consumer.

Also last week, the FCC dropped the hammer on six companies who swindled consumers over deceptive, pre-paid calling cards.

The organization fined the six companies — Locus Telecommunications Inc., Lyca Tel LLC, NobelTel LLC, Simple Network Inc., STi Telecom Inc. and Touch-Tel USA LLC — $5 million each for marketing calling cards that had far fewer calling minutes than what was advertised. The investigation into the six companies began in 2011.

Most of the companies targeted immigrants, according to the FCC’s report. The calling cards are popular within immigrant communities to help them stay in touch with family and friends in their home countries, the report said.

A summary of the FCC’s rules protecting consumers from fraud, deception and other dastardly behavior can be found here:

Consumer Watchdog

Joe Dolinsky

Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL

Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL

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