Telecom company sued by nearly every state over billions of robocalls

Aaron Gregg
Washington Post

A coalition of attorneys general from nearly every state is suing an Arizona company that provides phone-calling services for allegedly facilitating billions of robocalls, including many that appeared to be scams.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, regulators alleged Avid Telecom routed calls on behalf of its clients and found ways to spoof the phone numbers to increase the likelihood that a call would be picked up. The company is accused of transmitting 7.5 billion automated calls to people on the National Do Not Call Registry, a practice that violates laws prohibiting deceptive telemarketing practices.

A coalition of 48 states and the District alleges that Avid Telecom facilitated 21 billion calls from 2018 to 2023, including many on the Do Not Call Registry.

"Every day, millions of American consumers receive a barrage of unwanted robocalls that are harassing, annoying, threatening, and malicious," according to the complaint filed by the attorneys generals of 48 states and the District. "These calls are all scams designed to scare and harm consumers. Other robocalls may not be scams but are harassing, abusive, and illegal, nonetheless."

An industry group designated by the Federal Communications Commission to report spam calls issued at least 329 notifications to Avid, according to the complaint, but company executives allegedly ignored the warnings.

The Tuscon-based company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post. In a statement to CNBC, the company said it has "never been found by any court or regulatory authority to have transmitted unlawful traffic," noting that it is prepared to meet with the attorneys general to "demonstrate its lawful conduct."

"Contrary to the allegations in the complaint, Avid Telecom operates in a manner that is compliant with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations," the company's statement reads.

From December 2018 to January 2023, Avid facilitated about 21 billion calls to U.S. phone numbers, and 93 percent of them lasted less than 15 seconds, according to a preliminary review of call records cited in the complaint.

Many of these calls purported to be from government agencies like Social Security and Medicare, or customer service representatives from such well-known brands as Amazon and DirectTV. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Post.)