The AP reports that consumer complaints to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) regarding receiving unwanted automatic telemarketing calls, also known as “robocalls,” have risen sharply in the past several months. The federal government created the “do-not-call” registry in 2003 so that consumers could opt-out of receiving telemarketing phone calls. However, advancements in technology have now led to a new and growing problem of automated robocalls being made to phone numbers included on this list.
Consumers may register their cell phones and landline numbers on the do-not-call list, and telemarketers are required by law to check them every 31 days to ensure they are not targeting any contacts found on it. However, robocalls were actually ruled illegal in 2009, unless the caller has written permission from their clients to do so, or the calls are made by a charitable organization or are for informative purposes, such as notifying a client of a flight delay.
The main problem, according to FTC representatives, is that robocalls are highly attractive to illegitimate telemarketers searching for more ‘bang’ for their buck – the computers making the calls can literally dial millions of numbers within a few hours. In addition, the companies making these calls utilize caller ID scramblers so receivers see bogus numbers calling them, or they change numbers so often that it’s impossible to keep track of which ones are actually making the calls.
Furthermore, numbers of telemarketers checking the do-not-call registry have dramatically declined since 2007, says the FTC. In 2007, nearly 64,000 telemarketers used the information provided, while only 34,000 did so in 2012. Some industry experts claim this may be due to legitimate telemarketing companies turning to mail and email campaigns, however.
Complaints of unwanted telemarketing calls filed with the FTC have also risen from 65,000 in 2010 to more than 212,000 less than two years later. The FTC is planning on increasing its efforts of thwarting robocalls to include working on developing technology that can prevent caller ID spoofing, as well as tracing where the calls are truly coming from.
The best advice on how to deal with receiving a robocall is to hang up so that the caller doesn’t think you’ll answer, and will possibly slow down or stop calls to your number all together. Consumers may also file formal complaints with the FTC at www.FTC.gov.