U.S., State, and Local Enforcement Have Helped Stop Companies Responsible for over One Billion Calls
PHOENIX – Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, and other nationwide law enforcement partners announced a major crackdown on illegal robocalls, including 94 different actions targeting operations around the country that are responsible for more than one billion calls pitching a variety of products and services, including credit card interest rate reduction services, money-making opportunities, and medical alert systems.
The joint crackdown, “Operation Call it Quits,” is part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to help stem the tide of universally loathed pre-recorded telemarketing calls. It also includes new information to help educate consumers about illegal robocalls.
“Operation Call it Quits” includes four new cases (First Choice Horizon LLC, 8 Figure Dream Lifestyle, Media Mix 365, LLC, Derek Jason Bartoli) and three new settlements (Lifewatch, Inc., Redwood Scientific, Life Management Services) from the FTC. Collectively, the defendants in these cases were responsible for making more than a billion illegal robocalls to consumers nationwide. In addition to the actions by the FTC, 25 federal, state, and local agencies have brought 87 enforcement actions as part of the initiative.
Among the “Operation Call it Quits” cases, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office previously filed a Do Not Call and Consumer Fraud lawsuit against Sun City-based Bright & Shiny Cleaning Company (“Bright & Shiny”) and its owner Donald Burkhardt in late 2018. The lawsuit alleges Bright & Shiny called tens of thousands of Arizonans listed on the federal Do Not Call Registry, repeatedly called consumers who asked the company to stop calling, and used a deceptive scheme to gain access to consumers’ homes to subject them to high-pressure sales presentations for Kirby vacuums. Arizona is seeking consumer restitution and fines for calls Bright & Shiny made to a consumer on the federal Do Not Call Registry, as well as for violations of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.
“Telemarketing and phone scams are the most common complaints to our office,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “From going after bad actors that purposely violate the Do Not Call Registry, to being on the executive committee of a bipartisan group of 40 state attorneys general fighting robocalls, our team is working daily to combat this epidemic. But we've got so much work left to do.”
Since 2017, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office has obtained numerous Do Not Call judgments, including a $1,000,000 civil penalty against Adobe Carpet Cleaning, a $340,000 civil penalty against Desert Valley Aire, and a $150,000 civil penalty against Orangutan Home Services.
Other state partners that announced enforcement actions today include the Attorney General Offices for Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia; the Consumer Protection Divisions of the District Attorneys for the Counties of Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and Santa Clara, California; the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; and the Los Angeles City Attorney. In addition, the United States Attorneys’ Offices for the Northern District of Georgia, Middle District of Florida, and Southern District of Texas, with support from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, have contributed five criminal actions.
The FTC’s one-stop-shop for consumers looking for information on what to do about robocalls and other unwanted calls can be found at ftc.gov/calls. In addition to updated articles and infographics, consumers will find three new short videos about stopping unwanted calls. Consumers can also find additional information on ways to limit illegal robocalls.
“We’re all fed up with the tens of billions of illegal robocalls we get every year,” said Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Andrew Smith. “Today’s joint effort shows that combatting this scourge remains a top priority for law enforcement agencies around the nation."
If you believe you have been a victim of an illegal robocall, please contact the Arizona Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the metro areas at 1(800) 352-8431. Bilingual consumer protection staff is available to assist. Consumers can also file complaints online. Consumers can find more tips on how to protect themselves against phone scams.