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FTC Targets Robocalls in Challenge

November 08, 2012
By Michelle Amodio, Virtual Office Contributor

Despite the fact that they are illegal, robocalls still happen. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set up a sort of “bounty” to target these calls, so much that they’re offering a reward to the tune of $50,000 in what’s known as the Robocall Challenge.


The challenge is slightly more difficult than in the days of using a POTS (plain old telephone system). The reason being is that, back then, calls were actually traceable. If you received a robocall on an actual landline, chances are you can easily nab the offender if a complaint was actually made.

VoIP has since made tracking a tad more difficult. Because it uses Internet protocol (IP), VoIP can easily mask calls and where they’re coming from, hence the need for a contest to sort of out-wit these VoIP robocallers who are clearly hiding behind masked identities.

The FTC is attacking illegal robocalls on all fronts, and one of the things that we can do as a government agency is to tap into the genius and technical expertise among the public,” David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said at the commission's Oct. 19 Robocall Summit, where he introduced the challenge.

Meanwhile, as this is all well and good, what do we do in the meantime as robocalling offenders are still on the loose via the ether?

Phone.com, provider of virtual office services, has a quick workaround interim solution that could circumvent these would-be rogue callers, and that is the use of menus. Phone.com’s solution offers the ability to put a menu up front, and by enabling a feature such as “pressing 1” to reach a specific extension, a robot being what it is will not be able to actually reach the intended party for its calling purpose.

While live callers are an entirely different issue, as they are clearly smart enough to press a button, robocallers will at least get stuck in a queue and, at the very worst, you’ll either catch the tail end of a poorly recorded pitch.




Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

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