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Robocalls, Telemarketing Gain Attention from Consumers, Regulators

April 14, 2016
By Paula Bernier - Executive Editor, TMC


It’s well known that many people have a strong distaste for telemarketing. Not only can telemarketing be a nuisance because it interrupts people when they’re doing something else and are most likely not thinking about or seeking the product or service about which the caller is reaching out, but individuals also have to be cautious that callers are representing who they say they are, as some fraudulent callers misrepresent themselves in an effort to get money or personal information from individuals.


Unfortunately, telemarketing fraud of this sort is on the rise. In North Carolina, for example, it has become the top type of consumer complaint filed with the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office, as noted earlier this week by the Winston-Salem Journal. Indeed, telemarketing fraud complaints in North Carolina last year eclipsed Do Not Call registry violations, which topped the list the previous three years.

Common telemarketing scams include callers pretending to be the grandchildren of elderly folks and asking for money, and requests for personal information to be eligible for illegitimate or non-existent lotteries or sweepstakes, the article goes on to say. Sometimes the callers go as far as manipulating Caller ID to mask their identities and appear as if they are legitimate organizations, the piece notes.

“Many complaints are about illegal robocalls, which begin with a recorded message that asks consumers to press a number to speak with a representative. Common robocalls include pitches for lower interest rates on credit cards, medical-alert systems and home-alarm systems,” the story notes, explaining that robocalls are illegal in North Carolina, whose Consumer Protection Division aims to take legal action against those who make them.

Robocalls and telemarketing fraud are both drawing the interest and action of regulators. Indeed, the Federal Trade Commission recently ran a contest, for which the prize was $25,000, for the best solution to provide consumer protection again robocalls. Ethan Garr and Bryan Moyles were awarded the cash for their RoboKiller mobile app, which relies on audio-fingerprint and call forwarding technologies and crowdsourcing to identify robocalls. A similar offering from Hemant Sengar was given runner-up status and a $10,500 prize.




Edited by Rory J. Thompson



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