Fake business tax credits, bogus charities, and phishing and smishing all make the 2024 IRS Dirty Dozen list
Tax firm specializes in services for deaf filers

FCC takes action against tax debt robocall


While the Internal Revenue Service is in the midst of revealing its annual Dirty Dozen list another government agency also is taking tax-related action.

The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) Enforcement Bureau issued a cease-and-desist letter against Veriwave Telco. The letter ordered the Dover, Delaware, company to halt its origination of an apparently illegal National Tax Relief Program robocall campaign.

The FCC warned the company that failure to comply with the requirements outlined in the letter could result in mandatory blocking by downstream providers of all traffic from Veriwave.

In addition, the FCC's enforcement branch issued a K4 Order, notifying all U.S.-based voice service providers that they may be permitted to cease accepting traffic from Veriwave Telco.

Those FCC documents earn this weekend's Saturday Shout Out.

Taxpayers targeted at start of filing season: In its announcement of the letter, the FCC said that between Nov. 1, 2023 and Jan. 31, 2024, approximately 15.8 million calls playing prerecorded National Tax Relief Program messages were placed.

The robocalling campaign, which offered to "rapidly clear" the call recipients' tax debts, increased in volume in the three months immediately preceding the start of the 2024 tax filing season.

After answering prompts to press certain phone numerals, e.g., 1 for yes or 2 for no, some call recipients were connected to a live operator. The operator then reportedly asked for personal information, including the called person's date of birth and Social Security number.

However, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau found no evidence that the program actually exists.

FCC investigators and the Industry Traceback Group traced a number of these calls back to Veriwave Telco as the originating provider.

"An originating provider has an ongoing obligation to take affirmative, effective measures to prevent new and renewing customers from using its networks to originate illegal calls, including by knowing its customers and exercising due diligence in ensuring that its services are not used to originate illegal traffic," according to the FCC letter.

FCC Spring Cleaning: The April 4 robocall cease-and-desist letter kicked off the FCC Enforcement Bureau's Spring Cleaning initiative, which focuses on robocalls that use the springtime calendar, notably the annual tax filing deadline, to initiate predatory activities.

"Tricking consumers with tax season scams is just plain wrong, but we all know it remains a common ploy," said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel. "While illegal robocallers continue to try to hide from us, we’ll keep seeking them out and hold them accountable for putting consumers at risk."

Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan Egal cited the IRS help in kicking off the anti-fraud campaign, and noted that his group "will be working closely with other agencies throughout the spring to address different illegal robocall campaigns that are harming consumers."

One of those agencies is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which also battles these annoying unsolicited phone calls. "Illegal robocalls waste Americans' time and can cost them money, and unscrupulous VoIP providers knowingly enable these scams," said FTC Director Samuel Levine. Levine also commended the FCC on "continuing to use every tool to hold upstream actors accountable and protect Americans in the fight against illegal telemarketing."

That governmental coordination is why a final Saturday Shout Out goes this weekend to the FTC's thorough online page addressing robocalls. As a bonus, below is the FTC graphic on what to do about illegal robocalls.


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