Robocallers are a scourge to modern technology. It doesn’t matter if it’s a call saying your car’s extended warranty is expiring, that your credit card info was stolen, or how you can get a free night at a Marriott property, they’re still annoying and nothing but scams.
Marriott International has been the victim of robocalls for years. 2015 was the first time that a series of scam telephone calls were being falsely made on behalf of the hotel company. During these calls, the robocaller typically offers the person they’ve called a complimentary stay at one of the Marriott hotels. However to be eligible, the recipient of the call has to listen to a sales pitch that has nothing to do with Marriott.
Marriott most recently made a statement about the fraudulent calls in late 2020:
Marriott International is aware of pre-recorded telephone calls (often known as “robocalls”) that fraudulently reference Marriott’s name to entice the call recipient to listen to a sales pitch. Marriott is not making or authorizing these calls. Marriott is committed to protecting the privacy of the personal information that is entrusted to us and has not provided any information to the parties making these fraudulent calls. If you receive a suspicious robocall referencing Marriott, we urge you not to provide any personal or credit card information and to end the call.
Marriott also recommended what people should do if they received such calls.
However the hotel company is now pulling out the big guns and has filed a federal lawsuit in Virginia against robocall operators it claims is misusing Marriott’s name.
The identities of the alleged scammers are unknown and have been designated ”John Does’ for the purposes of the lawsuit. But they are using Marriott’s brand for their own commercial gain, which, as per Marriott, is in violation of state and federal laws.
The suit says that there were over 18 billion pre-recorded robocall telephone calls in the U.S. in 2020, and is already more than seven billion so far in 2021. Robocalls in the U.S. that claim to be from Marriott increased dramatically in 2020, by an average of about one million per month.
Marriott is working with with the Industry Traceback Group (ITG) and YouMail, Inc. to help in their fight. The ITG, which has been designated by the Federal Communications Commission since 2020 as the official robocall traceback consortium, rapidly identifies the origination point of illegal robocalls. YouMail is a company that protects consumers with app-based call protection services, identifies problematic numbers and robocalls using a combination of its recently patented audio fingerprinting technology, call patterns, and consumer feedback.
“Marriott has undertaken this federal lawsuit against illegal robocalls primarily to protect our customers, but also to protect our brand name and intellectual property,” said Stephanie Linnartz, President, Marriott International.
“Marriott’s fight will not stop with the filing of today’s complaint- we will continue to consider and leverage all tools at our disposal to identify and bring to justice the bad actors.”
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary