FTC Tackles Robocalling with $50,000 Prize for Solution
The FTC is trying to crack down on robocalls and is offering a $50,000 prize to the person or small business that creates a new solution to block illegal robocalls on landlines and mobile phones.
The contest begins October 25 and ends January 17. The winner will be announced on or around April 1.
Robocalls are automated telemarketing calls that deliver a pre-recorded message. The FCC has a strict set of guidelines against robocalls. Robocalls are legal in some instances such as calls from charities, political groups and opinion polling. But nearly every other type of robocall is illegal.
The FTC says it gets thousands of complaints a month about the robocalls from “Rachel” and scams like credit card rate reductions. The government agency says it is going after companies that use pre-recorded calls to consumers. These recorded calls are illegal if they don’t have the consumer’s advance permission.
Scammers are using technology such as VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) to hide their identities and locations. They can make calls from around the world and it is difficult for law enforcement to find them.
Until a better blocking technology is discovered, there are a few things consumers can do to reduce robocalls:
- Use caller ID to screen your calls. If you don’t recognize the number, do not answer it.
- Sign up for the National Do-Not-Call Registry to block unwanted calls. This may not eliminate all calls, but it will reduce them. Call the FTC at 888-382-1222 do so online. Telemarketers are required to check the list at least every 31 days for numbers they can’t call.
- If you answer a robocall, hang up immediately. Do not press any numbers or try to talk to a human.