Robocalls Are Illegal, But We’re Still Getting Them [AUDIO]
Has "Rachel from Cardholder Services" called your cell phone or landline lately? Each time she does, someone on the other side of the line is breaking the law. Telemarketing robocalls have been illegal since 2009, unless someone offers written permission to receive them, but the complaints continue to roll in from angry Americans.
"If people feel like it's been getting worse, the data backs them up," said Will Maxson with the Federal Trade Commission. He said the FTC has noticed an uptick in robocall complaints over the past 18 months.
The FTC has shut down a number of companies with robocall operations, and more investigations are underway, but there are countless scammers who remain unidentified and untraced.
Maxson said technological improvements, like Voice over Internet Protocol, allows companies to dial from anywhere in the world and make millions of calls for an exceptionally low price. They can also conduct "Caller ID spoofing," making the call look like it's coming from somewhere local or even a business you may already know.
In many cases, the robocall directs you to press a number on your keypad so you can speak to someone or be added to the company's "Do Not Call" registry (which doesn't exist). If you press a number, Maxson said, you'll probably end up getting more calls.
He explained, "They know that someone answered the phone...and actually responded to it. These calls come from what we call lead generators, companies that are trying to populate lists with people who have pressed 1 or 2."
The FTC has a summit planned for October, in which telemarketing employees, engineers and members of different government agencies will discuss the pressing issue and potential solutions.
Remember - not every robocall is illegal. Informational calls are allowed, like political endorsements or a message from the school district because of a closing.
Maxson said if you get an illegal robocall, "don't buy what they're selling, don't listen to them, don't press anything."
Complaints can be filed with a form at FTC.gov.