Attorney General Curtis Hill Tuesday joined federal authorities at a Chicago press conference announcing a national robocalling sweep organized by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In “Operation Call it Quits,” the FTC and its law enforcement partners announced 94 actions targeting operations around the country.
In 2018, Americans lost an estimated $10.5 billion to phone scams. That same year, Indiana residents reported losing more than $16 million to such scams. The actual amounts lost are probably much higher because many of the most vulnerable citizens — the elderly — don’t report their losses. Often, they’re embarrassed or intimidated, or they don’t even realize they've been scammed.
“Every year, our office gets more consumer complaints about unwanted robocalls than just about any other issue,” Attorney General Hill said. “At best, these calls represent a nuisance for families just wanting to enjoy peace and privacy without needless disturbances interrupting their routines. At worst, they represent scams that successfully steal people’s identities or hard-earned money. In Indiana, we are quite serious about stopping illegal robocalls, and our alliances with such partners as the FTC are valuable assets in this mission.”
Attorney General Hill was the only state attorney general attending the national press conference in Chicago.
“We’re all fed up with the tens of billions of illegal robocalls we get every year,” said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Today’s joint effort shows that combating this scourge remains a top priority for law enforcement agencies around the nation.”
At the press conference, Attorney General Hill also discussed his office’s recent civil complaint against a Maryland company and two individuals after receiving dozens of consumer complaints.
Anthony and Michael Valenti – doing business as American Health Services – persistently robocalled Hoosiers from Maryland-based phone numbers to pitch various insurance products. All of the calls began with prerecorded messages rather than a live speaker. Of the consumers who complained to the Office of the Attorney General, all but one had telephone numbers registered on the Indiana Do Not Call List. Further, the Valentis had no valid Indiana insurance licenses and had never registered the business with the Indiana Secretary of State.
In the complaint, the Office of the Attorney General alleges that these individuals and their company violated three Indiana statutes. As a result, they now could face up to $1.17 million in civil penalties, plus fees and costs.
“These are the kinds of actions we must continue to take against violators of laws intended to protect consumers,” Attorney General Hill said. “We will never stem the tide of illegal robocalling until we prove we have the resolve and wherewithal to make offenders pay.”
Attached are Indiana’s complaint, the FTC’s press release on the national sweep and a photo from today's event.