In the first case under the TRACED Act’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules, the FCC has proposed a $5.1 million robocalling fine, continuing its attempts to reign in unlawful robocalls.
In March, the FCC issued a $225 million fine against Texas-based telemarketers who made an estimated 1 billion robocalls.
Though the most recent proposed fine is much smaller, it is significant nevertheless and is the largest TCPA fine the regulator has ever proposed. The proposed action, formally known as a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) is for $5,134,500 against John M. Burkman, Jacob Alexander Wohl, and J.M. Burkman & Associates LLC for allegedly making 1,141 unlawful robocalls to wireless phones without prior express consent, a TCPA violation.
Under a recent amendment to TCPA rules, the regulator wasn’t required to warn the robocallers before robocall violations could be counted toward a proposed fine.
According to the FCC Enforcement Bureau investigation, the prerecorded calls were made to consumers’ wireless phones without the required prior consent, a violation of TCPA rules. The robocalls in question were made on August 26 and September 14, 2020, and told potential voters that, if they voted by mail, their “personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.”
The regulator and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office collaborated to identify two dialing service providers that provided subpoena responses confirming the robocall campaigns and identifying the clients who had hired them for this service, according to the press release.
The calls themselves identified Wohl and Burkman by name and used Burkman’s wireless phone number as the caller ID. Wohl and Burkman also both admitted under oath to their involvement in the creation and distribution of the robocalls, with Burkman stating in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, “That is our call, yes, yes” with confirmation from Wohl, according to the FCC press release about the robocalling fine.