Agencies are partnering with the Unsolicited Communications Enforcement Network
The Federal Trade Commission has joined the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in signing a renewed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between public authorities who are members of the Unsolicited Communications Enforcement Network (UCENet). The MOU aims to promote cross-border collaboration to combat unsolicited communications, including email and text spam, scams, and illegal telemarketing.
According to the FTC:
“The FTC is committed to using all of its tools to fight robocalls and other unsolicited communications that try to prey on consumers,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “This scourge does not respect borders, and our recommitment to this MOU underscores the importance of international communication and cooperation to combat this problem.”
Given the success of the collaboration under the original document, UCENet members agreed to renew and make evergreen the MOU, a non-binding instrument which the FTC and its partners signed in 2016. The 2016 MOU was aimed at facilitating information sharing, capacity building, and enforcement assistance among the partners. For the past seven years, it also has facilitated communication about emerging threats and complaint trends related to spam, scams, and illegal telemarketing.
The UCENET MOU is part of the FTC’s continuing to work to fight harms that can arise from unwanted messages. Unsolicited communications in the form of illegal and spoofed robocalls, text messages, and emails are often the source of scams that harm millions of consumers in the United States each year. The revised MOU also has been signed by UCENet partners in Canada, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
The FTC’s work in this area includes its recent Operation Stop Scam Calls initiative, which united federal and state law enforcement partners from across the United States in their fight against illegal telemarketing operations and the companies that facilitate their scams via lead generation and telecommunications services.
The effort also targeted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers who facilitate illegal robocalls every year, which often originate overseas. The collaboration, information-sharing, and intelligence-sharing by UCENet MOU signatories serves to strengthen, enhance, and complement the work of the FTC and other domestic agencies fighting the scourge of unwanted and illegal telemarketing calls.
The lead staffer on this matter was Kristina Mulligan in the Commission’s Office of International Affairs.
The Federal Trade Commission works with counterpart agencies to promote sound antitrust, consumer protection, and data privacy enforcement and policy.
The Significance of the FTC Decision
This is significant to the public and scam victims in a number of ways.
First, it shows that the FTC and FCC are committed to working together to protect consumers from these types of scams/fraud. By sharing information and resources, the two agencies can more effectively investigate and prosecute scammers, even if they are operating from outside the United States.
Second, the MOU renewal sends a strong message to scammers that their actions will not be tolerated. Scammers often operate across borders in order to make it more difficult for law enforcement to track them down and bring them to justice. The MOU renewal shows that the FTC and FCC are serious about cracking down on these criminals, regardless of where they are located.
Third, the MOU renewal is good news for scam victims. Victims of scams often have difficulty getting their money back, and they may feel helpless. The MOU renewal gives victims hope that the FTC and FCC are working to protect them and to bring scammers to justice.
Here are some specific benefits of the FTC-FCC MOU for scam victims:
- Increased coordination between law enforcement agencies: The MOU will help to improve coordination between law enforcement agencies in the United States and other countries. This will make it easier to investigate and prosecute scammers who are operating across borders.
- More resources to fight scams: The MOU will provide the FTC and FCC with more resources to fight scams. This includes resources for investigating and prosecuting scammers, as well as resources for educating consumers about scams.
- A stronger deterrent to scammers: The MOU sends a strong message to scammers that their actions will not be tolerated. This may deter some scammers from targeting consumers in the United States.
Overall, the FTC-FCC MOU is a positive development for consumers and scam victims. It shows that the two agencies are committed to working together to protect consumers from scams and to bring scammers to justice.