Action line: FTC says ignore robocall instructions
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Friday, September 28, 2012
9/28/12 at 5:53 AM
Dear Action Line: We continually receive calls for "lowering our interest rates" or "free security," even though we are on the no-call list. These recorded messages instruct us to press a certain number to discontinue future calls. Is this a valid way to get removed from calling lists or just another way to get information? - M.D.L., Bartlesville.
The Federal Trade Commission describes such calls as "robocalls" and warns, "When you get a robocall, hang up. Do not press 1 to speak to a live operator, and don't press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing a number, this will only lead to more robocalls." This is because your pressing a number alerts the technology that it has made a connection with an actual residence.
Consumers are getting more and more unsolicited robocalls. As the number of these calls has multiplied, so have the number of complaints reported to the FTC, state and local law enforcement agencies, and consumer organizations across the country.
Robocalls: If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it's a robocall. It's common to get robocalls for public office candidates or charities seeking funds, but these are allowed. But if the recording is a sales message and you haven't given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal. In addition to the phone calls being illegal, their pitch most likely is a scam.
Robocall spike: Technology is the answer. Companies are using autodialers that can send out thousands of phone calls every minute for an incredibly low cost. The companies that use this technology don't bother to screen for numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry. If a company doesn't care about obeying the law, you can be sure they're trying to scam you.
FTC attacks robocall enclave: During the last two years the FTC has stopped billions of robocalls, which offer everything from fraudulent credit card services and so-called auto warranty protection to home security systems and grant procurement programs. Tracing these calls is a tough job.
Caller ID spoofing: Robocallers fake the Caller ID information displayed on your phone Caller ID window, a process called "caller ID spoofing." New technology makes this easy to do. The fraudulent telemarketer makes you think the call is from your bank or some other entity you've done business with. The phone number might be displayed as "unknown" or "123456789." Sometimes it's a real number belonging to someone who has no idea it's being used in a scam. Robocallers use Internet technology that hides their true locations.
Blocking robocalls: Contact your phone provider and request that the number be blocked, and ask whether the provider charges for that service. Remember that crooked telemarketers can change Caller ID information easily and often, so it won't be worth paying a fee to block a fictitious number that will just change to another fake number. Report your experience to the FTC online, including the exact time of day the call came in, at "New rules for robocalls," tulsaworld.com/FTCReportRoboCalls
Original Print Headline: FTC advises consumers not to heed robocalls
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