Action Line: Efforts under way to stop robocalling
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
11/13/12 at 6:40 AM
Dear Action Line: We keep getting calls our Caller ID says are from Seattle, but there is no one on the other end when we answer. If I pick up the phone and just listen, it never makes a sound except for a fast beeping before they hang up. We call the number and it says the number "is not in service." Is this a robot call? - E.W., Tulsa.
Affirmative. This is becoming a real problem for all Oklahomans. The calls come day and night and use up space on answering machines. They are "commercial robocalls" - telephone calls from computers delivering recorded sales messages. They have been illegal in Oklahoma since July 1, 1992 - see the July 25, 2012, Consumer Page tulsaworld.com/Consumer072512
Under the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule, most commercial robocalls are illegal nationally unless recipients have given callers advance written permission to call them. In early October the FTC announced a Robocall Summit that took place Oct. 18 at the FTC Conference Center in Washington, D.C. There it met with law enforcement agency heads, the captains of industry and "other stakeholders" challenging them to "do battle with robocallers" by coming up with innovative technologies and procedures to catch them.
The agency offers $50,000 for the "best technical solution as part of the ongoing fight against these illegal calls." It also "challenged the public to create an innovative solution that will block illegal commercial robocalls on landlines and mobile phones" as part of its "ongoing campaign against these illegal, prerecorded telemarketing calls" - tulsaworld.com/FTCDoNotRobocall
It launched the "FTC Robocall Challenge" tulsaworld.com/FTCRobocallChallenge offering a $50,000 cash prize for the best technical solution.
This is FTC's first government contest hosted on Challenge.gov, an online challenge platform administered by the U.S. General Services Administration, in partnership with ChallengePost. Challenge.gov empowers the U.S. government and the public to bring the best ideas and top talent to bear on our nation's most pressing issues.
"The FTC is attacking illegal robocalls on all fronts, and one of the things we can do as a government agency is tap into the genius and technical expertise among the public," said David Vladeck, director of FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, when he announced the challenge and prize at the summit. "We think this will be an effective approach in the case of robocalls as the winner of our challenge will become a national hero."
Aggressive law enforcement: FTC continues targeting high volume offenders and pursues "chokepoints" in the calling process to stop the largest number of illegal calls. It has stopped companies making billions of robocalls since September 2009 and continues identifying, locating and prosecuting those responsible for such calls.
Strategically gathers evidence: FTC pursues an innovative strategy to gather evidence on illegal robocalls directly and acts on this as quickly as possible, promising more enforcement cases within the next few months.
Pursues technological solutions: FTC staff continues holding meetings and calls with engineers, technologists and industry experts discussing technological solutions to better trace illegal calls, combat "Caller ID spoofing," and stop illegal calls.
To find out what you should do on receiving a robocall, visit tulsaworld.com/FTCWhatToDoRobocalls
Original Print Headline: Efforts under way to combat robocalling
Submit Action Line questions by calling 918-699-8888, emailing phil.mulkins@TulsaWorld.com or by mailing them to Tulsa World Action Line, PO Box 1770, Tulsa OK 74102-1770.