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FCC Cracks Down on Robocalls 210

Posted by samzenpus
from the talk-to-the-machine dept.
Cara_Latham writes "If you want to receive annoying robocalls from telemarketers you will have to opt in. Federal Communications Commission rules now require that telemarketers get your consent before dialing your number. Telemarketers will also have to obtain consent even if they had previously 'done business with' the consumer on the receiving end of a call."
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FCC Cracks Down on Robocalls

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  • Text messaging (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2NO@SPAManthonymclin.com> on Thursday February 16, 2012 @08:17PM (#39068151) Homepage

    Can we add text messages to this please?

    I'm tired of paying per-message to receive spam.

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @08:20PM (#39068191) Homepage

      Make $700/hour working from home no experience required

      Reply STOP to unsubscribe

    • Re:Text messaging (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @08:33PM (#39068351) Homepage Journal

      Can we add text messages to this please?

      I'm tired of paying per-message to receive spam.

      I too and sick of my mobile going off to inform me I won a prize or am approved for a loan or some other BS. Do keep in mind these scumbags aren't the sort who will honor any legislation or directive. Mobile carriers should be enabling a crowd-based blocking feature - enough people report a number as robo-calling or scamming and it can be blocked by an opt-in program. (Yeah, too intelligent, hasn't got a chance, but I can dream)

    • Re:Text messaging (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BenFenner (981342) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @08:38PM (#39068411)
      I wouls say you could simply disable text messages (entirely!) at the provider level.
      But then you get this shit in the mail:

      http://www.supercars.net/gallery/132464/1542/873030.jpg [supercars.net]



      That's right dick-heads. I disabled text messages. All of them. Even the ones from you. It took me three months of calling, but I finally did it. You think I want your spam mail in my mail box?!
    • with Apple's release of Messages and maybe some scripting or Automator knowledge, it just became infinity easier to spam cell phones...

    • Re:Text messaging (Score:5, Informative)

      by Master Moose (1243274) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @08:48PM (#39068585) Homepage

      Glad I don't live in the US - The whole paying to receive calls and messages is unheard of here (NZ) and as far as I am aware, most other countries around the world. . Unless roaming and then I believe universally you are pinged with exorbitant cost.

      • by Ksevio (865461)
        On the flip side, we don't pay extra to call mobile numbers - though fewer countries even have that these days.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by D'Sphitz (699604)
        It's not nearly as common in the U.S. as the comments here would seem to indicate. I wouldn't draw any conclusions about the U.S. from slashdot comment, I've never encountered a single person who didn't have at least some messaging included in their plan. The sans-messaging-planners are similar to the anti-tv-crusaders, they are virtually non-existent in the real world, but they await around every corner on slashdot, eager to tell you all about how great it is to not own a television or have text messagi
        • by Dynedain (141758)

          It's not nearly as common in the U.S. as the comments here would seem to indicate. I wouldn't draw any conclusions about the U.S. from slashdot comment, I've never encountered a single person who didn't have at least some messaging included in their plan.

          That's because US plans basically force you into it (with the exception of Sprint's unlimited everything).

          AT&T for example:
          Pay $0.20 per text, or
          $5/mo for 200 messages, or
          $20/mo for unlimited messages, or
          $30/mo for unlimited messages on a family plan.

          My

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      turn ALL texts off.

      what, are you a teenager or something? seriously.

      turn them off. all carriers (even pre-paid which is what I use; I hate contracts!) support blocking of texts. both sending and receiving.

      email works. I never understood paying for 'text' when you already have text and its easier to de-spam than the in-band BS they call sms.

      • by Dynedain (141758)

        I'd love to disable text messaging entirely (and have in the past) but people who legitimately try to text me don't get a notification that I have it blocked. Their messages just disappear into the ether.

        And I've seen several account verification systems (banks and the like) that require text messages as a out-of-band response channel.

      • by cvtan (752695)
        If I turned off texting, communication with the granddaughter would go down 99%.
      • by Nethead (1563)

        Agree. Call me if you need to talk, we can get it solved in 2 minutes on the phone rather than 15 minutes of me trying to type on a small touch screen. I'll talk when I'm driving with my blue tooth, but I'll ignore you're text and likely forget about it. Send me an email and I have it on all my "devices" and can get it almost anywhere at anytime, and just as fast as an SMS.

      • Re:Text messaging (Score:5, Insightful)

        by amRadioHed (463061) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @10:25PM (#39069645)

        turn ALL texts off?

        great solution grandpa. This isn't the 90's anymore, texts aren't just for teens.

      • Re:Text messaging (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Randle_Revar (229304) <kelly.clowers@gmail.com> on Thursday February 16, 2012 @10:39PM (#39069755) Homepage Journal

        >what, are you a teenager or something? seriously.

        I am 29. I didn't text much at all (once in a month was rare for me) until I got a phone with a real keyboard (n900), and started dating. When we are apart (most of the time; we are in different states), my girlfriend and I communicate mostly via sms, then phone calls, then IM, then email.

    • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:03PM (#39068801)
      For AT&T it's 7726 ("spam" on the keys). They appear to be using the information provided to go after the spammers. Plus, if you forward it, you (and they) have a record so you can apply for a refund of the SMS fees on those messages.
      • by Dynedain (141758)

        Thanks, had no idea about this. But of course the business model of receiver-pays has every incentive for AT&T to encourage spam.

    • by Algae_94 (2017070)
      Sending Spam text messages is the same as sending spam emails, literally. Every carrier has a gateway that allows you to email to a number and have it received as a text. here is a listing of gateways [wikipedia.org]. It is a little harder to target as you need to match the number up with the carrier.

      I have done some work on web apps that sent text message alerts to users. In my experience, a few carriers blocked mass text emails as spam, but a number of them let everything through. Of the ones that blocked the spam,
      • by Dynedain (141758)

        Most carriers let the customer block email-sent text messages. I'm complaining about text messages that come from phone numbers (not from email). These can't be blocked short of blocking text message servicing entirely.

    • by cvtan (752695)
      And voice messages. You can't find out who called and you can't block them.
  • Two months ago, legislation was due to be voted on that permitted robocalls to cell phones [chicagotribune.com]. Now the FCC imposes new laws, which are essentially the laws as they were intended when passed in 1991. The real question is, will anyone actually enforce them? I already got a call to lower my energy bill and an important call about my current credit card account this evening, both on my cell.

    Do Not Call and reporting to the FCC? Hasn't done squat to slow down these phone number jacking, robocalling, dinner-interru
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jamstar7 (694492)
      I do collections for a living. You'd be surprised at how many people start screaming how they're gonna sue me because they're on the Do Not Call list. News flash, kids. Collection calls are NOT covered by the national DNC list.
      • 'collections' is mostly a scam. there are a few honest places; but when I get calls that are phishing and trying to scam me saying that I owe money (on what card, again? sorry, I don't even have that card!) your whole industry is known as a scammer industry.

        you guys are scum and you get what you deserve. I'll yell at you just because you exist.

        no go away or I shall taunt you a third time.

      • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:06PM (#39068829)

        Half the time the people calling to collect a debt can't even produce proof that they are legally authorized to collect it.

        First response to any collections call should always be, "I would like written proof that your organization owns this debt and are authorized to collect it." A lot of the time, you never hear from them again. I'm not gonna come right out and say they're scammer fucks, but it's funny that said proof almost never, ever, shows up...

        • by jamstar7 (694492)
          I've never had a problem validating a debt ever. Before I take a job at a collection agency, the first question I ask is, 'Do you get copies of the original bill with the new business coming in?' If they say no, I go somewhere else where they do get the 'paperwork' for the debt. Yes, the law says you can dispute a debt, no problem, and a copy of the original bill is considered proof that the debt is owed. With a doctor bill, it's considered an itemised bill with the billing codes (collectors aren't supp
          • by sjames (1099)

            Any idiot can print up a bill. It only proves that someone says the person owes them money. It says nothing about the validity of the 'debt'

            • by jamstar7 (694492)
              As I said previously in the post you're replying to, we get a copy of the signed release authorising treatment and alerting the patient that they are liable to get it paid. That piece of paper validates the debt. Every doctor's office and hospital in the US uses these releases. They're no secret. Try reading one next time you go to the doctor's.
          • by wierd_w (1375923)

            The problem I have with many telephone debt collection agencies is that they are harrasing. There *are* federal and state laws againsr harrassing collections practices, which clearly spell out what is and is not harrassment.

            I am not going to accuse you or your employing agency of any of these following practices. I am merely pointing out that many collectors do these things as standard operating practise, banking on the fact that few debtors know their rights under the law.

            1) calling outside of business hou

            • by jamstar7 (694492)
              You bring up several valid points. #7 is interesting, in that when the phone company tells me the phone is listed to the debtor and the debtor claims it's not, I tend to believe the phone company, if it's a hardline. If it's a cell phone, I take out the number & do some skip tracing to find their hardline number.

              #2 is supposed to come into play when they send a written notice to be contacted only by mail and/or attorney. They tell me to stop calling, I inform them of this and give them the address t
              • by wierd_w (1375923)

                Oh, I agree. If the phone company says the person lives there (barring the special case where the debt is also to the phone company.. more on that later) then that constitutes probable cause that the person is lying.

                *it is possible that the debtor has claimed a false name and identity to activate service at their real address via identity fraud, such as with stolen identity information from the internet. In this case, the phone company's records will list the identity fraud victim as the debtor. This is lik

          • Good for you. I'm not trying to be facetious, I really mean it, because some of the repugnant shit I've read about as concerns unscrupulous collection agencies (people getting threatened over the phone, burly people showing up at a "debtors" doorstep demanding payment, little kids being told that mommy or daddy is a deadbeat loser) casts really negative aspersions on the field in my opinion.

            I've rarely ever had a legitimate collections call, but boy have I had some people try to convince me (often in a ver

      • by sjames (1099)

        Considering how many times I get called by collectors looking for people I don't know (and who certainly have never lived here), I'd say it's entirely possible that you DON'T have any business relationship with them and ARE guilty of harassing them.

        As a rough guess, about half of the collectors are just phishing for my banking info so they can hoover my account.

      • Collection calls are NOT covered by the national DNC list.

        Only if it's a collection call for the person you're actually calling.

        I routinely get collection calls that are directed at other people.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @08:21PM (#39068207)
    ... By using this website, service, or product, (henceforth known only as The Service) you grant The Company the right to robocall using any telephone network or communications medium at our sole discretion. Any attempt to subvert, co-opt, or bypass this provision will render use of The Service illegal, and we reserve the right to take any legal measures available to us to end your use of The Service. An electronic signature is as valid as a physical one for the purposes of enforcing this section of the End User Licensing Agreement.
    • So provide a number that is valid, but goes nowhere. Everyone you know chips in the for the cost of a single POTS line, which is minimal, and a phone is never attached to it. Nobody has to hear it ring, there is no answering machine, and it's a legal, legit number. As far as anyone who calls it is concerned, you're just never home.
      • by Phrogman (80473)

        "Sir, I will need another number, according to our records there are apparently 1675 people living at that residence"...
        Not a bad idea but with the way companies are building up databases detailing individuals, I am sure they could check to see that that number is not located at the residence you gave them, OR that a ton of people seem to be listing the same residence etc.
        They need to put a minimum fine that is very hefty on each illegal call, so if someone is caught robocalling someone against the rules, t

      • So provide a number that is valid, but goes nowhere.

        That's kinda what I do. I've been giving businesses that want my phone number (but don't need it for anything I deem worthy) my landline home phone number for years, and that line's been out of service since 2005.

        I feel bad for whoever has that number now, though.

        • by Amouth (879122)

          just fill out the form as 411XXXXXXX .. you would be surprised how few people check inputs.. 911 is what most people would do .. but that can get you in trouble as if they could show you put it intentionally then it would be abusing 911 and isn't a good idea.. but 411.. that's just information look-up.. and the local bell loves to answer questions on it.. and around here is ~1.25$ per call.

  • Here's the phone number of the Direct Marketing Association. You can call them to let them know your feelings about this topic.

    212.768.7277

  • Let's specifically target that phone spamming group. Give us an easier/better way to track and report phone calls from them. Actually do something to stop them.

    • At least twice a month, I always get called by 920-602-0879 on my cell stating that I've been pre-approved for debt consolidation or some such crap. When I called the number back, it says the mail box of "services" is full. Gee. Imagine that.

      I want to block these cocksuckers!

  • There's just one word for this: YEAH!

    • There's just one word for this: YEAH!

      Actually there are two words for it, but I'm trying to watch my language.

  • by bmo (77928) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @08:34PM (#39068365)

    A paywall?

    Are you effing serious, subby?

    http://www.fcc.gov/guides/robocalls [fcc.gov]

    --
    BMO

    • http://www.fcc.gov/guides/unwanted-telephone-marketing-calls [fcc.gov]

      For those who could not be arsed to click the link in the preceding page.

      It explains everything without having to look up the law itself.

      --
      BMO

    • by mrmeval (662166)

      He gets a kickback for that.

  • The FCC didn't give a shit three years ago, when the car-warranty scammers were robo-calling every phone number, including cell phones. How many thousand complaints did they get over that one? No, the FCC didn't do jack until the robo-callers called a US senator. That got them shut down.

    Or look at the recent SOPA/PIPA debate, and the ensuing MegaUpload takedown. No SOPA/PIPA? No matter!

    Why should I believe these new "rules" have any real meaning, for either the FCC or the miscreants?
    • the new rules still leave exceptions for 'non profits' and of course, political callers.

      those are the ones we want blocked THE MOST.

      this is a useless law. it serves no one but 'looks pretty' on someone's resume.

    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:01PM (#39068771)

      The FCC didn't give a shit three years ago, when the car-warranty scammers were robo-calling every phone number, including cell phones. How many thousand complaints did they get over that one? No, the FCC didn't do jack until the robo-callers called a US senator. That got them shut down.

      Thus proving that senators aren't entirely useless.

  • I hate them.

    From the blocked caller ID to the robo calls. I'm just over it.

    We should shift everything to some kind of VOIP system entirely bypassing the whole network while giving everyone superior service. it's not like the telephone company isn't already doing VOIP internally to move calls around. And this way instead of having stupid phone numbers we can have more recognizable screen names... caller ID that can't be blocked... and ideally a call filtering system that lets people get calls they want rejec

    • by cusco (717999) <brian.bixby@gmail.STRAWcom minus berry> on Thursday February 16, 2012 @08:53PM (#39068663)
      VOIP is great . . . until your Internet connection goes down. Our land line has gone down once, for a couple of hours, since 1997. We've lost Internet connectivity for days at times.
      • There's no reason why VOIP can't be just as reliable.

        In any case, I'm sure a telegraph line is more reliable then a telephone line... and I know a horse is more reliable then a car.

        So... choose.

        Which century do you want to live in?

        I'll take my car which at some point here is going to have an electric drive that doesn't suck. And stick as much as possible to digital communication systems.

        The internet network is still relatively new at least in the mind of the telecommunication's industry. They first need to

        • and I know a horse is more reliable then a car.

          Haven't known many horses, have you?

          They're very delicate animals - they can die from drinking water that humans are perfectly fine with, as an example.

          Plus there's the whole "so dumb they can be run to death", unlike, say, a mule, which won't put up with crap like that from their rider.

  • just a reminder (Score:3, Informative)

    by nimbius (983462) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @08:41PM (#39068469) Homepage
    your friendly political campaigns efforts to use robocalls to discourage minority voters from attending polls [theroot.com], slander their opponents before the the big vote, or piss you off before supper sleep or sex will remain unaffected by this regulation. should you wish to file a complaint please direct messages to the round smelly bin in your home, or in petrol form to the windows of the appropriate politician accordingly.

    regards,
    commission of communications.
  • This won't change a thing. The companies that are the worst offenders are already breaking the law, and don't care. They won't care any more if some new penalty is added. They fake caller ID and don't observe the Do Not Call List. Most of these aren't even legitimate marketing calls, but some kind of scam or another. They're breaking the law in so many ways it isn't even funny.

    Fortunately, you can avoid these calls today by using a cell phone. For some reason, they do avoid making calls to cell phones. I im

  • by cusco (717999) <brian.bixby@gmail.STRAWcom minus berry> on Thursday February 16, 2012 @08:51PM (#39068633)
    I notice that there is no sign of stopping congresscritters, or the survey-takers in their employ, from robocalling. Since that's the vast majority of robocalls that I get I doubt that this is going to make any change in my life.

    FYI, it's not enough to tell a phone caller to take you off their list. You need to say, "Put me on your Do Not Call List." They're required by law to do so, and any time they sell or rent their phone list the DNC list is required to go with it. If they tell you they're not required to have a DNC List because they work for some slimeball pretend non-profit that does political work I've found that the following technique works. Say, "If I were to cuss and swear at you then you would put our number on a list of people not to call again. Please put our number on that list." Those two simple changes changed the number of calls that an acquaintence got from 7-8 a night to 7-8 a week.

    If you're ever required to put down a phone number, for store discount cards or something, use the same number that I (and a hundred other people do). (321) 123-4567. You'll be amazed at the number of cashiers that think it's really your phone number.
    • "If I were to cuss and swear at you then you would put our number on a list of people not to call again. Please put our number on that list."

      I give one warning then I talk really dirty to them, they usually threaten to charge me with making sexually abusive phone calls. They get all quite when I explain. It's not phone harassment if they called me!

  • I'm really going to be lonesome when I stop getting that "lower your interest rates" call twice a day.

    • Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. The miscreants calling you will care about this law almost as much as they care about all of the other laws in place. Passing more laws to stop activity that's already illegal has been tried many times before.

  • Canada? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dorduan (1411877) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:02PM (#39068783)
    Assuming that this is implemented properly in US, does this cover people like me in Canada who are called by telemarketers from US?
  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:32PM (#39069157)
    All that will happen is Canadian/Offshore companies will call the US as US companies now call Canada to get around Canadian rules.

    It is now so bad that I don't answer long distance calls where I don't recognize the number.

    What is needed is a rapid response/fine structure. Telcos have to block the number the instant they have proof that it is making naughty calls. Not 30 days but 24hours. Also what is stopping these agencies from buying one of these scam offers and then having the FBI track where the money goes and shutting seizing the whole pile?
  • I don't really have anything to add to this discussion. I just wanted to call out Nationwide Insurance for robo-calling me so I can save money on my insurance. Not only have I never ever ever had anything to do with them, never even been to their site or called for a quote, they came from an 'unknown' number.

    I just wanted to give this grievance a little air-time since they're currently running ads on TV. If you share my annoyance with telemarketers, consider mentally associating their jingle with robo-c

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @10:31PM (#39069693)

    I get robocalls from companies I have no business relation with on my mobile phone, which is also on the do not call list. This is currently illegal. When this happens, I dutifully fill out the forms on the FCC complaint site, with all the details. Afterward I am sent a snail mail letter acknowledging the form. Rinse and repeat, but no changes. I still get robocalls from the same number as the complaint. I'm talking 20 or 30 of complaints over six months.

    So this new "tougher" rule is supposed to do what exactly? Nobody is enforcing the existing rules, why make new rules? For good PR, I guess.

    • I second this post. I have done the exact same with the DNC in Canada. Nada. I heard about one company getting a small fine (small compared to the profit these companies raked in.)
      I might have submitted 30 valid complaints. I never even got a letter.
  • by jonwil (467024) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @10:32PM (#39069703)

    They should just make it illegal to use any machine that dials people and plays a recorded message. Anyone wants to reach you (including non-profit organizations, charities, survey organizations, political parties etc), they can employ a bunch of people to ring numbers manually (even if what came down the phone at the other end was a pre-recorded message, if they had to dial the number manually it would be enough to discourage this practice due to the cost of hiring staff to dial)

    auto-dialers are one of those inventions the world would be better off without (like the technology Hollywood uses to turn 2D films into crappy-looking near-unwatchable 3D films)

    • by WiiVault (1039946)
      But but but but... what about the jobs created by the autodialer software/hardware companies!?
  • This day and age you automatically opt in to everything, glance a shopping listing on google? Guess what? your opted in for spam mail and now phone calls, requirement filled.

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.

Working...