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Consumers Angered by Increase in Illegal 'Robocalls'
Complaints to the federal government about unwanted telemarketing are on the rise again, and it’s raising questions about how well the federal “do not call” registry is working. Increasingly, both live calls and automated telemarketing calls (“robocalls”) are finding their way into consumers’ homes regardless of whether they are on the federal registry or not.
Consumer watchdogs have noted the increase, as well. David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times blogged that he has been hearing from numerous people in recent months saying that telemarketers seem to have shrugged off any qualms they may have had about violating the do-not-call list, a.k.a. the National Do Not Call Registry.
While marketers are supposed to check the do-not-call registry every month to make sure they are not calling listed numbers, many robocallers seem to be ignoring the law altogether, confident they won’t be found – they often spoof the number from which they are calling, making them hard to trace – or if they are caught, they believe they are unlikely to be fined.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, monthly complaints about robocalls more than tripled to about 212,000 in April from 65,000 in October 2010. The FTC (News - Alert) notes that not only are these calls violating federal law, more often than not, they are pushing scams.
"These calls are the No. 1 complaint getter, by a wide margin," said Roberto Anguizola, the FTC's assistant director of marketing practices. "Not only are they illegal, but in most cases they're hawking a scam.”
While the FTC hasn’t given up chasing these people, they say the best thing to do when you receive a call is simply hang up. Pressing any buttons to speak with a live agent will only let the company know they’ve got a “live” target on the other end. Informing whoever picks up the call that they are breaking federal law will usually get you a quick hang-up.
In the meantime, prosecuting companies that break the law is a bit like playing whack-a-mole, says the FTC. They target and put out of business one company, and five more pop up in its place.
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Edited by Rachel Ramsey