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California joins federal effort to crack down on robocalls

California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks during a news conference outside of an Amazon distribution facility in San Francisco on Nov. 15, 2021. | Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California is joining a new federal initiative dedicated to stopping telemarketing scams and robocalls.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Rob Bonta joined the other 49 state attorneys general from across the country in announcing a crackdown on illegal telemarketing. The Federal Trade Commission’s Operation Stop Scam Calls targets telephone fraudsters, predatory sales calls and the widely despised automated pitches known as robocalls.

"Unwanted telemarketing calls, including robocalls, are more than just a nuisance—they’re often illegal," Bonta said. "Not only are they a source of everyday annoyance for Californians, they can also lead to serious financial harm."

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Last August, Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice would join a nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force to investigate and take legal action against telecommunications companies behind foreign-based robocalls.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office said it has pursued around 90 cases against illegal telemarketing operations in the last year. They targeted phone-lead generators who collected telephone numbers and provided them to robocallers and other Voice over Internet Protocol service providers, which facilitated illegal calls using the internet rather than a phone line.

Earlier this year, a Los Angeles Superior Court ruled against Southern California retail chain for using "scam telemarketing calls" to illegally sell insurance to its majority Latino immigrant customer base, according to Bonta. The owner was ordered to pay $7,970,175 in civil penalties.