Despite promising to crack down on robocalling, Trump's FCC has collected less than $7,000 in fines
The FCC under Trump and his choice for chairman, Ajit Pai, has made a lot of hay about cracking down on robocalls. Robocalling has been getting out of control over the last couple of years under Pai and Trump, and frequently those robocalls seem to support a very conservative agenda. Maybe it’s just serendipity? Pai for his part has told everyone that the FCC is sad emoji face about robocalling. Many critics have argued that Pai and his telecom shilling is all talk and no action. John Oliver dedicated an entire show to pressuring the FCC to actually do something about robocalling.
Pai himself has promoted the idea that the FCC has been handing out tons of fines to telecoms and companies abusing consumers with robocalls. The Wall Street Journal, not known for being anything but pro-business and meh-consumer protections, has done an investigation into the FCC‘s handling of robocallers, and discovered that they aren’t doing much about it. According to the paper they received records through a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA), and found that while the FCC has fined companies a total of $208.4 million since 2015, they have only collected $6,790 of that money.
To put that into perspective, for every $10,000 in punitive fines to companies violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the FCC has collected a little less than 4 pennies. Like cents. To put that into further perspective, if someone fined me $10,000 for something—I would feel it pretty badly for three to four years, as I tried to pay it off. If you told me that they would only ask for fewer than 4 pennies I would forget that I was fined $10,000.
Through a spokesman, the FCC said that they do not have the power to collect all of the fines and that many of the fines are individual bad actors who cannot pay the fines. According to consumer advocates it is all fine and well to tell people they shouldn’t do something, but the lack of enforcement or true regulation means that consumers will continue to lose.