Sprint agrees to pay $7.5M to FCC in 'Do Not Call' settlement

The phone company hands millions to the US government in the largest-ever settlement over the opt-out-of-telemarketing registry.

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Lynn La/CNET

Sprint has agreed to pay the US government $7.5 million in a record settlement concerning the national "Do Not Call" list.

The Federal Communications Commission announced Monday that its Enforcement Bureau and Sprint came to an agreement regarding the phone company's continued phone and text message marketing to people who had signed up to be on the Do Not Call list. This settlement is the largest of any Do Not Call settlement to date.

"We expect companies to respect the privacy of consumers who have opted out of marketing calls," Travis LeBlanc, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau acting chief, said in a statement. "When a consumer tells a company to stop calling or texting with promotional pitches, that request must be honored."

In addition to the $7.5 million settlement fee, Sprint has also agreed to put in place a two-year compliance plan to make sure that it follows the FCC's Do Not Call rules.

This isn't the first time Sprint has settled over complaints about the Do Not Call list. In 2011, Sprint paid the FCC $400,000 for telemarketing calls that slipped through to Do Not Call users.

For its part, Sprint said that the continued phone and text message marketing that has happened since 2011 was due to unintentional human and technical errors.

"This consent decree relates to issues resulting from technical and inadvertent human errors, which Sprint reported to the FCC," a Sprint spokesperson told CNET. "The issues related only to Do Not Call Rules. We have conducted a thorough, top-to-bottom evaluation of our Do Not Call data management systems, and significant capital investments have been made to improve our Do Not Call/SMS Message architecture, oversight and compliance."

The US government created the Do Not Call list in 2003. The idea is to give people an option to not receive telemarketing calls. Being on the list is free and people will stay on the list until they ask to be removed or discontinue their phone service.

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