(The Center Square) — Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced two new initiatives Tuesday in his office’s campaign against illegal phone calls that use computerized auto-dialers to deliver pre-recorded messages – better known as robocalls.
The Attorney General’s Office has created a new complaint form for reporting robocalls and launched a new website detailing how to recognize robocalls and other possible telemarketing scams, as well as methods for stopping robocalls.
“Robocalls are more than just annoying – they can also be illegal,” Ferguson said in a press release. “Many of our cases are based on tips we receive from Washingtonians. If robocalls are harassing you, please file a complaint with my office.”
Not all robocalls in Washington are illegal. School messages, political pitches, and businesses people have signed up with are allowed to auto-dial. Companies that do not have permission are not allowed to make robocalls.
The new complaint form and website are a continuation of Ferguson’s efforts over the last two years to stop illegal robocalls.
In October 2021, Ferguson filed a suit charging Corvallis, Oregon-based Global Grid Telecom of illegally robocalling Washington residents with deceptive recorded messages, including – ironically – calls looking to sell a service called “MAX|Command” that the company claimed would stop unwanted spam phone calls. The case is ongoing.
In March 2021, Ferguson joined the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of 39 other attorneys general, in announcing settlement against for-profit corporate fundraisers Associated Community Services, Inc. and Directele, Inc., as well as multiple corporations and individuals affiliated with them.
As a result of that settlement, the two national companies that made more than 1.7 million robocalls into Washington for sham charities will pay $495,000 to help fund legitimate charities.
In August 2020, two Ferguson-targeted Vancouver-based air-duct cleaning companies owned by the same man were ordered by a King County Superior Court judge to pay $10 million in civil penalties for engaging in deceptive advertising and unfair sales practices. US Air Ducts & Sky Builder Inc. and DLM Services made more than 13 million robocalls within the state from 2017 to 2019.
In February 2022, the Federal Trade Commission received 6,075 complaints from Washingtonians regarding solicitations by phone.