FCC orders phone companies to block scam student loan robocalls
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued an order for telecommunications companies to block robocalls connected to known student loan scams.
The FCC said in a release on Thursday that providers must take “all necessary steps” to avoid carrying this robocall traffic, which is the target of an ongoing investigation from the agency’s Enforcement Bureau.
“Scam robocalls try to pull from the headlines to confuse consumers. The newest trick in their playbook? Trying to take advantage of people who want help paying off their student loans,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Today we’re cutting these scammers off so they can’t use efforts to provide student loan debt relief as cover for fraud.”
The FCC is specifically ordering companies to stop accepting robocall traffic from Urth Access, LLC, which investigators believe generated more than 40 percent of student loan debt robocalls in October. The agency sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company last month for transmitting apparently illegal robocall traffic.
The FCC previously warned providers of a concerning number of robocalls and authorized them to cut off the traffic. But the order on Thursday requires them to do so.
The companies must report the steps they have taken to mitigate the traffic if they do not cut it off.
The release states that a spike in student loan robocalls appears to have happened after President Biden announced his student loan forgiveness program to forgive up to $10,000 in debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 annually.
The program is currently on hold as multiple legal battles play out over Biden’s authority to forgive student loans. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit filed by six states against the program in February.
Many of the robocalls include prerecorded messages offering student loan assistance or forgiveness.
“We will continue to deploy all of the tools in our arsenal to eliminate bad actors’ access to U.S. communications networks in furtherance of their schemes,” said Loyaan Egal, the FCC’s enforcement bureau chief.