The Wall Street Journal reports that robocallers go largely unpunished, with all those headline-grabbing fines virtually uncollected.
An FCC spokesman said his agency lacks the authority to enforce the forfeiture orders it issues and has passed all unpaid penalties to the Justice Department, which has the power to collect the fines. Many of the spoofers and robocallers the agency tries to punish are individuals and small operations, he added, which means they are at times unable to pay the full penalties.
"Fines serve to penalize bad conduct and deter future misconduct," the FCC spokesman said. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which can settle or drop cases, declined to comment.
The dearth of financial penalties collected by the U.S. government for violations of telemarketing and auto-dialing rules shows the limits the sister regulators face in putting a stop to illegal robocalls. It also shows why the threat of large fines can fail to deter bad actors.
I'd bet a dollar the only fines ever collected were from a tiny handful of otherwise legitimate callers who made stupid mistakes. Robocalls and the like will account for nearly half of all calls in 2019, according to the FCC.
Correction: FCC, not FTC.