“Do-Not-Call” & Robocall Violations on the Rise

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.

10 Interesting Facts about Phone Numbers

Most people dial at least a few phone numbers every day. When they are pressing the numbers, they are usually not interested in the numbers themselves; instead, they only think about the people they are calling. Have you ever wondered how phone numbers were invented, and how they evolved over time? Here are 10 interesting facts about phone numbers:

  1. When telephone service was first made available to the public, phone users were required to call operators to connect them to their desired lines. A friend of Alexander Graham Bell, Dr. Moses Greeley Parker from Lowell, Massachusetts, questioned this system. As the town was hit by a measles epidemic, he feared that replacement operators would have trouble running the system. This led to the use of phone numbers.
  2. The idea of using area codes was first conceived in the late 1940s, but it was not implemented until 1951, when the 201 area code of New Jersey was introduced. Codes were assigned based on population, and the most populous areas were given codes that were easier and quicker to dial on the rotary phone. New York and Los Angeles were assigned 212 and 213 respectively, while rural areas in Kansas and Texas were given 913 and 915.
  3. Before the introduction of emergency numbers, callers could only gain access to emergency services by calling an operator. To make emergency calls more efficient, the 911 number was adopted as the standard emergency number in the United States in the late 1960s. Some fire departments in the country still use 3473, or “FIRE”, as their emergency number.
  4. The most expensive phone number ever sold was the cell phone number 666-6666, which was auctioned off for $2.7 million in Qatar.
  5. According to legend, Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple, was once the owner of the phone number 888-8888. The problem with this cool number is that it received more than a hundred prank calls every day.
  6. In the past, fictional phone numbers used in American movies and television shows were generated with the Klondike phone exchange. Now, certain numbers with the 555 prefix are used specially for fictional purposes.
  7. However, some film companies prefer to use numbers without the 555 prefix. The number (212) 664-7665 was used in Universal Studios films such as Definitely Maybe, The Adjustment Bureau, and Scott Pilgrim vs the World. The 288 area code was used in the Fight Club, and a real phone number 776-2323 was used as “God’s number” in Bruce Almighty.
  8. Phone numbers also appeared in popular songs, and one of them most memorable among them is 736-5000 in “Pennsylvania 6-5000” by Glenn Miller. Other phone numbers used in songs include 867-5309/Jenny, which is the title for a Tommy Tutone song, and 489-4608 in Alicia Keys’ “Diary”.
  9. Nowadays, you can make your phone number easier to remember by using services such as PhoneSpell. Such services can help you find “phone words” in your phone numbers. Also, you can use a wide range of services to retrieve the phone numbers of your contacts, as well as other information. These services include reverse phone lookup, people finder, address search, and reverse email search.
  10. Finally, here is a phone number trick that you can do to impress your friends. Take the first three digits of any seven-digit phone number and multiply by 80. Add one and multiply the total by 250. Then, add last four digits of the phone number twice. Subtract 250 and then divide by two.