On July 27, 2020, the Enforcement Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (the “FCC”) designated the Industry Traceback Group (“ITG”) as the FCC’s official consortium for coordinating efforts to trace illegal robocalls. The ITG is a collaboration of wireline, wireless, VoIP and cable industry companies, led by USTelecom, with the mission of tracing and identifying the source of illegal robocalls. According to the ITG, it conducted more than 1,000 trace-back operations in 2019 and unmasked the source of more than 10 million robocalls.
Scam phone calls and text messages have only proliferated as scammers exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to defraud consumers with things like fake offers to sell products to treat or prevent the coronavirus. While the FCC has rules in place prohibiting unlawful automated messages, it can only pursue enforcement if the callers are identified. The FCC and the consortium have worked together for the past few years to develop a trace-back process to assist the FCC’s enforcement of illegal robocalls. According to the FCC, in April, the ITG helped identify a number of gateway providers that were aiding COVID-19 scam calls originating from overseas.
Rosemary Harold, chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, commented about the partnership with ITG, stating, “[t]he Industry Traceback Group has been and will continue to be a vital partner in our pursuit of unlawful robocallers. Protecting consumers against illegal spoofing and robocalls is our top consumer protection priority, and this industry consortium is a key contributor.”
Read the first annual ITG progress report.