FTC taking robocall death hunt to DEFCON

defcon rachel
Credit: FTC

Federal Trade Commission will offer competition to build ultimate Honeypot to snare robocallers

The Federal Trade Commission is taking its fight against robocallers to the upcoming DEFCON by challenging attendees of the conference to build the ultimate “honeypot” that would lure in and identify illegal phone spammers.

 The FTC said a robocall honeypot is an information system designed to attract robocallers, which can help experts and law enforcement authorities understand and combat illegal calls. The FTC has noted that the vast majority of telephone calls that deliver a prerecorded message trying to sell something to the recipient are illegal. The agency regulates these calls under the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

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 At DEFCON, the FTC challenge will be called, “Zapping Rachel,” a reference to the “Rachel from Cardholder Services” robocall scam the agency took out in 2012, and will consist of three stand-alone contests hosted Aug 7-10, 2014. Complete rules will be posted to Challenge.gov in advance of the contest.

 Zapping Rachel is the FTC’s second public completion to slow the robocall scourge. The FTC’s Robocall Challenge in 2012 yielded nearly 800 new ideas on how to stop robocallers. One of the winners of that challenge, Nomorobo, offers a free service to prevent robocalls.

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