Posted by: Bob Quinn on July 6, 2016 at 3:06 pm
You’re trying to sit down to dinner, but the phone won’t stop ringing. And it’s not friends, family or the office. It’s another unwanted recorded call pitching you a product you don’t want. Or, worse, attempting to scam you with, say, a phony tax bill. The same technology that allows you to stay connected with friends and family on the internet also has made it easier for illegal communications to flourish, including unwanted and illegal robocalling.
We’re working hard to develop tools to shut down these calls. But this is an industry-wide problem because any call from one person to another usually touches the networks of multiple companies. Which is why we’re calling for a comprehensive, industry-wide approach to address unwanted and illegal robocalls. We’re encouraging the deployment of new technology along with increased law enforcement involvement and prosecution of offenders to deal with the particularly troubling issue of illegal calls.
I am on the Do Not Call list. Why do I receive any unwanted telephone marketing calls?
Since 2003, Americans have been able to opt out of receiving most telemarketing calls by putting their phone numbers on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) National Do Not Call Registry. But there are important exceptions for some organizations: calls from political parties, campaigns and candidates; calls from non-profits and charities; calls from legitimate “survey” organizations because they are not offering to sell anything to consumers; and calls from companies with which you have done or sought to do business. Any of those organizations are permitted to call you even though you are on the Do Not Call list. In addition, bad guys and fraudsters don’t pay any attention to the Do Not Call list.
What is a robocall?
If the phone rings and a recorded message is on the other end, you are receiving a robocall. In 2009, the FTC established new rules prohibiting most prerecorded or automated calls unless the caller had the consumers’ prior written approval. Thus, if you haven’t given your written permission to receive that call, the call is illegal and very often being made to perpetrate fraud. Autodialers are now commonly used to initiate thousands of phone calls a minute for a very low cost. And as federal regulators have discovered, tracking and stopping these calls is extremely challenging. Many originate overseas; we estimate that at least 50% of these calls use caller ID info that is spoofed to look like a friendly or local caller; and once caught, many fraudsters simply change their corporate identity and resume illegal operations on a new network or with a new caller identity. But as with the Do Not Call list, there are exceptions here, too, including exemptions for political parties and candidates; emergency alerts; and pending rules that would permit the federal government (and certain government contractors) to use robocall technology to contact you regarding federal debts or federally guaranteed debts (i.e., tax bills, student loans).