The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released its annual report to Congress, detailing consumer complaints and enforcement action in connection with illegal robocalls.
Released at the end of December, the report offers insight into trends related to informal consumer complaints regarding robocalls that were received by the Commission over five full calendar years, from 2016-2020, as well as complaint data and information about enforcement actions through November 2021.
Informal consumer complaints increased dramatically during the first three years covered by the report, from just under 180,000 in 2016 to more than 330,000 in 2018. Total consumer complaints then dropped significantly in the following two-year period, with 271,000 complaints filed in 2019 and just over 212,000 in 2020. However, the first 11 months of 2021 indicate a slight increase over 2020 levels, with more than 214,000 complaints submitted during the period.
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has significantly stepped-up actions against robocall operators in recent years. The Commission issued two Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture during 2020, with proposed forfeitures totaling nearly $250 million. The proposed forfeiture amounts included a record $225 million fine against two men reportedly responsible for making approximately one billion spoofed robocalls during the first half of 2019. During the first 11 months of 2021, the Commission issued only one Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, proposing a $5 million fine.