Illegal pre-recorded “robocalls” are a growing annoyance for millions of American consumers and the target of an enforcement crackdown by the Federal Trade Commission. What should you do when you get one of these calls? Today, the FTC issued tips for consumers, as well as two new consumer education videos explaining robocalls and describing what consumers should do when they receive one. The agency also is hosting a robocall summit later this year to develop new strategies to stop illegal robocalls.
“The FTC hears from American consumers every day about illegal robocalls and how intrusive they are,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “We’re ratcheting up our efforts to stop this invasion of consumers’ privacy.” The agency’s two new consumer videos, “Robocalls Gone Wrong,” and “What To Do if You Get a Robocall,” are located on a new FTC robocalls web page, which has more information about robocalls and what the FTC is doing to protect consumers.
Nearly all telemarketing robocalls have been illegal since September 1, 2009. 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. To date, the FTC has brought 12 enforcement cases targeting illegal robocalls, and violators have paid $5.6 million in total penalties. Indeed, since January 2010, the Federal Trade Commission has brought law enforcement actions, shutting down the companies responsible for more than 2.6 billion illegal telemarketing robocalls.
FTC’s Robocall Summit
The FTC also announced it will host a summit on October 18, 2012, in Washington, DC, to examine the issues surrounding the robocall problem. The summit will be open to the public, and will include members of law enforcement, the telemarketing and telecommunications industry, consumer groups, and other stakeholders. 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. More information about the summit and a draft agenda will be issued soon.
FTC’s Social Chat
FTC staff answered questions from the public about robocalls on Twitter [transcript] and Facebook [transcript] July 17, 2012. For more information on FTC social chats, see Facebook Chats and Twitter Chats.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.