Telecommunications companies must stop carrying student loan scam robocalls, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered on Thursday.
In a press release, the FCC said they believe Urth Access, LLC along with associated companies generated over 40% of the student loan debt robocalls in October alone.
The enforcement bureau of the FCC has now ordered that all U.S. voice service providers take “all necessary steps to avoid carrying robocall traffic from the Urth Access.” The FCC previously warned in November of an uptick in robocalls and gave service providers authorization to cut off service to Urth, while this order now requires them to do so.
“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 FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan Egal. “This targeted enforcement action provides U.S. telecommunications providers with the necessary information to apply ‘Know Your Customer’ principles to assist in protecting consumers from the individuals and entities named in this order.”
The student loan debt robocalls followed the announcement of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program in August, the FCC said, and the robocalls feature prerecorded messages offering student loan forgiveness or assistance.
Many of them refer to an entity such as the “Student Loan Center” which does not exist. The calls included threats that if income wasn’t verified by Jan. 1, 2023, people’s student loan payments would resume as normal and that they had to verify their income with the robocall center to “receive the full dismissal.”
The FCC said users should be aware of any student loan calls that ask for bank account or credit card info and any calls that direct them to a website other than StudentAid.gov.
“Scam robocalls try to pull from the headlines to confuse consumers,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “The newest trick in their playbook? Trying to take advantage of people who want help paying off their student loans. Today we’re cutting these scammers off so they can’t use efforts to provide student loan debt relief as cover for fraud.”
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*First Published: Dec 8, 2022, 4:58 pm CST
Jacob Seitz is a freelance journalist originally from Columbus, Ohio, interested in the intersection of culture and politics.