FTC to revisit robocall menace

FTC to examine ways to trace robocalls, prevent wrongdoers from faking caller ID data and other ways to stop illegal calls

While there are legal measures in place to stop most robocalls, the use of the annoying automated calling process seems to be on the rise.

The Federal Trade Commission, which defined the rules that outlawed most robocalls in 2009 has taken notice and this October 18th will convene a robocall summit to examine the issues surrounding what even it called the growing robocall problem.

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According to the FTC, the summit will be open to the public, and will include members of law enforcement, the telemarketing and telecommunications industry and consumer groups. It will focus on exploring innovations that could potentially be used to trace robocalls, prevent wrongdoers from faking caller ID data, and stop illegal calls. In addition, the FTC said it will answer questions from the public about robocalls on Twitter and Facebook July 17, 2012 at 1 pm ET. Follow the @FTC and/or tweet questions to #FTCrobo.

The agency, which says it has stopped billions of robocalls in the past couple years,  says a variety of technologies are making it easier for telemarketers to skirt or at least try to get around the law.  The increased use of automated phone call systems that just blast away calls without first screening the Do Not Call registry is one of the main enabling technologies.  The ability to operate such systems via the Internet and hiding or spoofing their location is another problem.

According to the FTC, nearly all telemarketing robocalls have been illegal since September 1, 2009 and the only legal sales robocalls are ones that consumers have stated in writing that they want to receive. Certain other types of robocalls, such as political calls, survey calls, and charitable calls remain legal, and are not covered by the 2009 ban.

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To date, the FTC says it has brought 85 enforcement cases targeting illegal robocalls, and violators have paid $41 million in penalties. Indeed, since January 2010, the FTC has brought law enforcement actions, shutting down the companies responsible for more than 2.6 billion illegal telemarketing robocalls.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8 and on Facebook

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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