The FCC Called Me. Scam or Not?

Austin M.

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 29, 2010
994
0
Washington
Hey guys,

Just a quick question for the community. My father was called on New Years Eve from an individual claiming to be from the FCC and said that we had illegal download traffic coming from our house. The guy apparently asked questions like, "Is this so and so with so and so work and so and so address (all of which was correct information)." And my father was basically like: "Yes, who the hell is this?" The guy apparently said that I had illegally downloaded some TV shows (of which I did about a year ago) and they had found out through my IP and that they are going to fine us $25,000. Additionally, my dad asked if there was any way to get the fine reduced or lifted and the guy apparently said yes, it's possible, but we'll have to show them facts. My dad thinks its real (so do I) and is very frustrated.

Opinions?

EDIT: Apparently Airspeed, ourcurrent internet provider, contacted my dad as well.
 

Austin M.

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 29, 2010
994
0
Washington
What should I talk to my father about then, and how do I show him the possibility of a scam.

Is it real if our internet provider contacted us as well?
 

chown33

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 9, 2009
8,772
5,142
vertical
The FCC doesn't enforce copyright law. And a copyright violation is the only thing I can think of that might be called an "illegal download"**.

Copyright law is enforced by private parties (the copyright holder) suing infringers in court, and winning judgements against them. There may or may not be a prefatory letter offering a settlement before the actual lawsuit is filed. In any case, both the lawsuit and the offer for settlement would come from a lawyer or legal firm practicing copyright law, not the FCC.

Matters involving settlement offers, lawsuits, etc. are never handled by telephone calls. There's no paper trail, and the legal system loves paper trails. If they can't be bothered to send you an actual written letter, not an email, then ignore them until they do.


I say "definite scam". However, you might want to talk to an actual lawyer or legal adviser, because free legal advice obtained on the internet is often worth exactly what you paid for it.



** I suppose classified documents might also be "illegal", but again, the FCC wouldn't be enforcing that. You'd get a personal visit from a friendly FBI agent, not a phone call.
 

ucfgrad93

macrumors P6
Aug 17, 2007
17,969
8,969
Colorado
I agree that this is most likely a scam, however, like chown33 said it couldn't hurt to talk to an attorney.
 

MacCruiskeen

macrumors 6502
Nov 9, 2011
321
5
Did you get the guy's name? See if you can find him here:

http://www.fcc.gov/finding-people-fcc

The FCC in general doesn't go after individuals for enforcement. They're a regulatory agency, not an investigative agency. If there'd been a complaint from a copyright holder, it would more likely go through the DOJ.
 

juanm

macrumors 68000
May 1, 2006
1,576
2,994
Fury 161
If it were real, they'd have delivered some kind of proper "you've been served" notification, I guess, not some phone call.

Next time they call, threaten to call the Intertube Police. ;)
 

zioxide

macrumors 603
Dec 11, 2006
5,737
3,726
Uhh, this is a load of ********.

The FCC is the federal agency in charge of managing and regulating traffic of over-the-air radio broadcasts across the country.

They have nothing to do with producing content, copyright law, enforcing copyrights, or your internet services. This is 100% without a doubt a scam. I hope your dad didn't give out any personal information.
 

NewbieCanada

macrumors 68030
Oct 9, 2007
2,574
35
Call your ISP yourself and ask if they've contacted you. 99% chance they don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Strategies to smoke them out.

Ask for name, phone number, email address. If they don't have a .gov email address it's bovine excrement. If they give you a phone number, google it and see what comes up.

There shouldn't be even a second's hesitation in providing them.

Ask where you can mail the cheque for the fine and who it should be payable. No, you don't have a credit card and you can't pay it that way.

Insist you can't discuss this further till they send you the details in writing.
 

Austin M.

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 29, 2010
994
0
Washington
This is true, I'll discuss. Thanks guys, I'm just really confused and freaked out about the whole situation.
 

chown33

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 9, 2009
8,772
5,142
vertical
... Many good suggestions ...

Insist you can't discuss this further till they send you the details in writing.
You can tell them that you're collecting basic information so you have all the facts and the specific allegations before consulting with your lawyer.

----------

This is true, I'll discuss. Thanks guys, I'm just really confused and freaked out about the whole situation.
That is exactly what they're counting on.
 

NewbieCanada

macrumors 68030
Oct 9, 2007
2,574
35
You can tell them that you're collecting basic information so you have all the facts and the specific allegations before consulting with your lawyer.

----------



That is exactly what they're counting on.
Basically you need to make them do things they're never going to do and that they would have done in the first place if they were legit. They're interested in a quick hit and cash grab.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
16,948
3,840
Hey guys,

Just a quick question for the community. My father was called on New Years Eve from an individual claiming to be from the FCC and said that we had illegal download traffic coming from our house. The guy apparently asked questions like, "Is this so and so with so and so work and so and so address (all of which was correct information)." And my father was basically like: "Yes, who the hell is this?" The guy apparently said that I had illegally downloaded some TV shows (of which I did about a year ago) and they had found out through my IP and that they are going to fine us $25,000. Additionally, my dad asked if there was any way to get the fine reduced or lifted and the guy apparently said yes, it's possible, but we'll have to show them facts. My dad thinks its real (so do I) and is very frustrated.

Opinions?

EDIT: Apparently Airspeed, ourcurrent internet provider, contacted my dad as well.
You will most definitely _not_ be contacted by the FCC, even if you are illegally downloading stuff. It's not what the FCC does. Not their business. And you will _not_ be contacted by anyone even slightly legitimate over the phone. You will get a letter, with recorded delivery, that you have to sign for so they can prove you received it.

Simple test: Ask for their name and phone number to call them back. Anyone at the FCC would have a name and phone number that they can give you, and they will give it to you. If they refuse, it's a scam. They will refuse.

What should I talk to my father about then, and how do I show him the possibility of a scam.

Is it real if our internet provider contacted us as well?
It is not "possibility of a scam", it is "a scam beyond reasonable doubt". You were not contacted by your ISP either. You were contacted by a guy claiming to work for the FCC, and by his mate claiming to work for your ISP.
 
Last edited:

Aspasia

macrumors 65816
I would call the local police and report the call, if you can get the number of the caller.

Government agencies don't make phone calls. They develop a paper trail.

Your dad's been had - and unfortunately, appears to have given out personal information on the phone by responding to the questions.
 

MacAndMic

macrumors 6502
Jun 4, 2009
355
1,388
99% certain it is a scammer but 1% of me questions that if it could be a private investigator fishing for more info to possibly further some type of action? Or at the very least, a scammer fishing for more info to escalate the scam.

I would not sweat the content of the call at this point as any legitimate legal actions are always handled by paper. I would however sweat how the person obtained your dad's info and if there is possibly a breach at your ISP. Tying a customer list from an ISP to then claim they are from the FCC is "natural" with everything that went down with RIAA in the past. An easy scam I would think for the unsuspecting.
 

ejb190

macrumors 65816
If it ain't in writing, it's a scam. Over my years I have dealt with the IRS, FBI, USDA, EPA, Army Corp of Engineers, FAA, not to mention a whole gob of state agencies - it all starts with forms or letters. If there is no form or letter, there is no case. Even a cop doesn't just ask for $300, he issues a ticket which can be disputed in court.

Want to get rid of them fast? Give them your attorney's name and number and tell them that all contact about this matter needs to go through your legal council. Or ask them to send everything to you in writing.
 

MacNut

macrumors Core
Jan 4, 2002
22,061
8,469
CT
The FCC would only contact you if you are running a 50,000 watt pirate radio station in your basement. Not for illegal downloads.
 

einmusiker

macrumors 68030
Apr 26, 2010
2,972
285
Location: Location: Location:
why would they go after someone who is just streaming the movies rather than the people illegally uploading them? 100% scam

edit; I would be much more concerned that there are scammers out there with that much information about you. Did you get the phone number they called from?
 
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