BBB Cautions against Button-Pushing as FTC Takes Action
Consider yourself among the very fortunate few if you have never picked up the phone and been greeted by a recorded “robocall.”
The federal Telemarketing Sales Rule prohibits recorded sales messages unless you have given written permission for the caller to contact you, regardless of whether or not your number is on the Do Not Call registry (www.donotcall.gov).
Nonetheless, a growing number of consumers are receiving calls that offer fraudulent credit card services, questionable auto warranty plans, home security systems and grant procurement programs. Many Americans have received offers from “Stacey” or “Rachel” from “Cardholder Services” on their landlines and cell phones.
There is an important difference between "robocaller,"- which dials numbers indiscriminately and usually plays a recorded introduction - and an automatically-dialed recorded call for a sales pitch.
Other, similar technology uses an automated dialer and prerecorded message for legitimate uses. These may be employed by a city or town during or in the aftermath of some sort of an emergency. Y our doctor’s office or pharmacy may use a pre-recorded message to remind you about an upcoming appointment or let you know that your prescription is ready for pickup.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has used its enforcement authority to stop companies that have made billions of auto-dialed calls, but acknowledges that technology has helped significantly increase these calls in recent years. This technology helps criminals generate calls from anywhere in the world and falsify caller ID technology to cover their steps.
The FTC is hosting a public summit on the issue October 18, 2012 for consumer groups, legitimate industry, technology experts and policymakers in an effort to develop solutions to put an end to the rapid rise in robocalls.
While there is currently no foolproof way for consumers to stop these calls except for changing telephone numbers, Connecticut Better Business Bureau recommends:
Keep your number to yourself – Any time you divulge your telephone number to a retailer, financial institution or other business, it is a tacit invitation for them to call that number or sell it to a third party. Robocaller databases may be augmented by telephone numbers sold by a third party.
Hang up right away – Recorded marketing calls typically begin with a second or two of silence. There is nothing to gain from attempting to reason with the people behind the calls. Speak with your telephone provider to see if it can provide free blocking services. Unfortunately, the telephone number displayed on caller ID may not be legitimate.
Do not press 1 or any other numerals to “get yourself off the list” – By pressing a number, you are confirming that someone is actually responding to the call, and you will likely receive more of them. You also may file a complaint with the FTC.
Will these pesky calls ever end? The Federal Trade Commission website states it is gathering evidence to act upon the illegal calls, and “FTC staff continue to hold meetings and calls with engineers, technologists, and industry experts to discuss technological solutions to better trace illegal calls, combat caller ID spoofing, and stop illegal calls."