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Combatting robocalls


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The FCC is putting pressure on phone companies to do more to stop Robocalls. It has been illegal in the U.S. for over two decades.

In 2003 the government implemented a national Do Not Call List, which was designed to protect consumers from rogue dialers. Despite this measure, The Federal Trade Commission says it still receives about 150,000 robocall complaints a month.

Stamping out companies who violate Do Not Call  laws is difficult. The FTC files hundreds of lawsuits against violators, but to no avail. “For every company we can shut down, there are probably 10 to 100 companies that can pop up in its place,” the FTC’s Patty Hsue tells the L.A. Times.

Tim Marvin with the Consumer Union tells KPCC that the problem is the technology. Robocall software is simply developing faster than lawmakers can counteract it. Making matters more complicated, telemarketers often shield their number using a fake phone number. Because digital dialers operate through broadband internet, a marketer’s true identity and information is nearly impossible to trace.

Ahead of the tax deadline, many consumers have received calls from scammers claiming to be with the IRS, demanding payment and making threats. People who lose money to scammers rarely see their money again.

Should carriers do more to combat robocalls? When was the last time you received a call from a telemarketer? Have you ever been the target of a scammer?


Tim Marvin, grass roots coordinator, Consumers Union

Jeff Kagan, telecom industry analyst