FTC cracks down on robocalls

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on robocalls, those calls to our mobile and home lines that claim "Your car's factory warranty is about to expire!" If you're unfamiliar, consider yourself lucky, then listen to sample audio from some of the most egregious robocalls.

http://www.austinchronicle.com/binary/517e/robocall.jpgThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on robocalls, those calls to our mobile and home lines that claim "Your car's factory warranty is about to expire!" If you're unfamiliar, consider yourself lucky, then listen to sample audio from some of the most egregious robocalls.

The Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general in 40 states are cracking down on the warranty providers, including two in South Florida, and the telemarketing firms they use. Complaints filed by the Federal Trade Commission in U.S. District Court in Illinois target the aggressive automated pitches, which trade officials say violate federal telemarketing laws, and the warranties, which officials charge are misleading.

I had a bad run of robocalls to my iPhone back in April, peaking at about five per week, but they since seem to have petered out almost entirely.

Hopefully the deceptive, automated calls will drop dramatically after 1 September 2009 when the final phase of changes to the federal telemarketing law goes into affect. After that date, only people who have given written consent in advance can be called by automated systems. Unfortunately you're still likely to receive robocalls from organizations that are exempt from the regulations, including charities and political organizations.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel warns that consumers need to remain vigilant and should watch for ads and solicitations that try to trick you into signing something that will allow telemarketers to circumvent the new FTC rules.

If you're receiving robocalls there are a few things that you can do:

  1. Put your home and cell phones on both Federal and State Do Not Call registries for better coverage. The federal list is free. Call 888-382-1222 or go to www.donotcall.gov. State lists vary, Google your state's name and "Do Not Call list."
  2. If you are on the Do Not Call list(s) and still receive solicitation calls, capturing the CallerID number and report telemarketing violations to state and federal regulators at the phone numbers or Web sites above.

What about you? Are you getting robocalls to your mobile?

Photo: Austin Chronicle