If you are not already a victim and have never heard of a robocall, it is a prerecorded telemarketing call placed by computers that dial telephone numbers in sequences – home phones, faxes, businesses and cell phones at blinding speeds. Anyone who knows about computers understands how many calls can be placed per second.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives tens of thousands of complaints about these invasive calls, and the number has continued to rise exponentially.
Telemarketers are prohibited by law from calling consumers’ landlines if their numbers are in the Do Not Call Registry. They also are forbidden to call cell phones. This has not stopped them, as millions of consumers know.
One of the most commonly-asked questions in our consumer education outreach on talk shows is “Why can’t they be blocked?”
The FTC has been moving aggressively to address that problem, shutting down scammers who ignore the law, criminals who brought “Rachel from cardholder services” into our lives and offer everything from credit fixes and advanced fee loan scams to local home services and even “academic opportunities.”
Unfortunately, the illegal telemarketers are one technological step ahead of everyone else. However, American ingenuity may soon be able to help put an end to this headache.
The FTC offered a $50,000 prize to anyone who could come up with a novel way to stop these computerized dialers from reaching our phones.
And that’s where Serdar Danis and Aaron Foss come into the picture.
They will each receive $25,000 for their proposals to intercept and filter out these prerecorded calls. The FTC posted the details on its website.
The fight has only begun, but this is welcome news to those of us who have been receiving calls with greetings that increasingly sound like you are connected to a live person.
For now, the best advice is to ignore calls from telephone numbers that you do not recognize or which do not show a caller ID. If you are offered the option to “press 1” to speak with a live representative or to be removed from the calling list – don’t. It only confirms to the robocalling computer that it has found a working number.
It is not a perfect solution nor an elegant one, but thanks to the FTC, Serdar Danis and Aaron Foss, we may soon get some peace from scammers who misuse technology to try and trick us into divulging personal information or cheat us out of our money.