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FTC Gets 744 New Ideas On How To Hang Up On Robocallers 281

Posted by timothy
from the I'd-prefer-starving-them-in-a-cage dept.
coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission today said the submission period for its Robocall Challenge had ended and it got 744 new ideas for ways to shut down the annoying automated callers. The FTC noted that the vast majority of telephone calls that deliver a prerecorded message trying to sell something to the recipient are illegal. The FTC regulates these calls under the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Challenge was issued to developing technical or functional solutions and proofs of concepts that can block illegal robocalls which, despite the agency's best efforts, seem to be increasing."
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FTC Gets 744 New Ideas On How To Hang Up On Robocallers

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  • by penix1 (722987) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:00PM (#42753515) Homepage

    The problem is the law. There are so many loopholes in it you could drive a Mac truck through them. For example, the whole "if we did business with you before we can contact you again" part. There is no definition of "doing business" and it can include things like they sent you snail-mail spam. It also exempts the most annoying which are the political robocalls. In short, the law itself is contributing to the problem.

  • by blueg3 (192743) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:07PM (#42753603)

    The problem is the law. There are so many loopholes in it...

    Actually, if you look in the summary, that's exactly not what the FTC found. All of the loopholes are legal ways for companies to call you that are still not desired by the recipient. But the majority of robocalls, it says, are illegal. Meaning they're not driving through loopholes, they're just ignoring the law.

  • by The Moof (859402) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:31PM (#42753901)
    This is probably the best suggestion. If you ever have reported robocalls, you know that they refuse to investigate the complaint unless you appeal the initial "nothing to see here, move along citizen" cookie cutter response.
  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @03:46PM (#42754075)

    It also helps to never give out your cell # except to friends and family. I found that a lot of the businesses I was giving my phone number to were somehow passing it along to telemarketers (I could tell because sometimes I would vary my name slightly just to see).

    I ditched my land line a few years ago, but even my cell number wasn't immune. I'd still get calls from "Rachel" and her friends, not to mention "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooo!!!! This is your captain speaking . . ." [wafflesatnoon.com]

    Worse, by far were the debt collectors calling for people I'd never heard of -- or even not asking for anyone in particular, just wanting a return call to some number to "clear up a file on my desk". Then if I did call them back and tell them they had the wrong guy, sometimes they'd stop for a while -- at least till that junk debt collector resold the debt to another.

    It wasn't all bad. One agency had a particularly entertaining tactic: each week or so a different person would leave a message. Since it was always the same voice actor, he had to use different names with appropriate accents for each persona. My favorite was fake Scotsman Alistair McTavish.

    Curiously, it seems that while people who do owe money have certain rights when dealing with collections agencies, people who don't actually owe money don't seem to have quite the same level of protection from harassment. You'd think that harassing non-debtors would be a self-limiting thing, since you (presumably) couldn't collect anything from someone without an overdue debt, but they were oddly persistent.

  • by gauauu (649169) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:16PM (#42754461)

    Better yet, agree to the sale.
    Then once they get you one the phone with the person who takes your credit card info, hang up. This will result in a cost to the call center and the agent who called you will get reprimanded for the failed conversion.

    I tried this. Unfortunately, the fact that I actually wanted to talk to somebody got me bumped to some sort of "possible target" list, where I get called probably 5 times as frequently now. Before starting your strategy, I got called maybe once every few weeks. It bumped up to once or twice a day after I actually talked to somebody. *sigh*

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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