Attorney General Brnovich Fighting to Hold Robocallers Accountable

PHOENIX – Attorney General Brnovich announced today that he is part of a bipartisan coalition of 35 attorneys general seeking to ensure their offices can continue to fight against unwanted and harassing robocalls. Specifically, General Brnovich filed an amicus brief in Lindenbaum v. Realgy, arguing that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (TCPA) robocall ban was enforceable from 2015 to 2020.

On November 2, 2015, Congress amended the TCPA to permit robocalls made “solely” to collect a debt “owed to or guaranteed by the United States,” even without the prior express consent of the called party. The exception allowed for calls and texts to collect on debts owed or guaranteed to the federal government. In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) invalidated that exception and severed it from the rest of the TCPA. Later, a district court ruled in Lindenbaum v. Realgy that because part of the law was struck down, the TCPA is invalid and cannot be used to hold robocallers accountable for their actions between 2015 and 2020.

“One thing Americans agree on is that we are all sick and tired of being harassed by illegal and unwanted robocalls,” said Attorney General Brnovich. “Individuals or companies who engaged in illegal robocalling should not be given a blanket free pass."

The brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, asks the court to reverse the lower court’s ruling. The brief argues that SCOTUS' 2020 decision made clear that the invalid government-debt exception did not affect the TCPA’s primary robocall ban. It further argues that the district court’s decision was inconsistent with basic principles on severability.  Attorney General Brnovich is fighting to ensure that illegal robocallers in Arizona and across the nation are held accountable for illegal acts committed between 2015 and 2020.

State attorneys general are at the forefront of the fight against robocalls, which are immensely frustrating and can cause real financial harm to people. In January 2020, people received more than 4.7 billion robocalls nationwide. The attorneys general have several ongoing enforcement actions under the TCPA, and invalidating the law on a technicality would let robocallers off the hook. The bipartisan coalition argues that aside from the government debt exception, the rest of the TCPA can and must be upheld so it can be enforced.

Attorney General Brnovich is joined in filing this brief by the Attorneys General of Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

A copy of the brief.

AGO Efforts to Combat Robocalls

The Arizona Attorney General's Office (AGO) is on the executive committee of a bipartisan coalition of 40 state attorneys general focused on stopping or reducing annoying and harmful robocalls. In October 2020, General Brnovich filed an amicus brief in Facebook v. Noah Duguid, arguing the case is key to states’ ability to protect residents from scammers who use abusive robocall tactics to threaten and scam people out of their money.

Since 2017, the AGO 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

Recently, the AGO launched a new webpage on robocalls and telemarketing that includes consumer tips on how to protect yourself from robocalls and spam texts. The webpage also includes different call-blocking apps and telecom provider services to block robocalls.