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Robocalls on the upswing: FTC on the hunt for Rachel and company

Posted by Mitch Lipka  July 17, 2012 04:01 PM

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If you’ve been getting peppered lately with a lot of computer-generated telephone solicitations, you’re not alone.

These pre-recorded “robocalls” are on the upswing and the Federal Trade Commission is trying to arrest this annoying trend --again.. The agency stopped a massive calling operation a couple of years ago, which appeared to have slowed these calls pitching everything from lower interest rates to auto warranties.

But relief proved to be short-lived and now, even the infamous “Rachel from Cardholder Services” – the recorded woman’s voice attached to so many millions of these calls – is back in a big way. She, or at least her robotic likeness, has called me a half-dozen times in the past couple of weeks alone.

The FTC blames technology in the hands of people who disregard the law. Robocalls can be made by the millions and no one even has to pause to take a breath since the calls are computer-generated.

On Tuesday, the agency is hosting conversations with the public about this problem on the FTC Facebook page and Twitter. A summit of law enforcement and other officials is being organized for October in an attempt to crack down on those responsible for these calls.

Meanwhile, if you get a robocall, remember they are scams. Don’t waste your time listening to what they have to offer. They’re not going to lower your interest rate and they’re not going to hook you up with an awesome auto warranty.

The FTC advises that you hang up immediately. Don’t even bother pressing the number they suggest for being removed from their calls.

You can see if your phone carrier will allow you to block the number, but be sure to ask the carrier if there’s a charge for that, the FTC says. Since the numbers of robocallers change constantly, it’s probably not worth paying for that service.

Also, report the calls at donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

It appears to be an uphill battle, but if consumers stopped buying into the bunk these automated calls are pitching, they’d stop. So, do your part. Ignore robocalling pitches and report them. Maybe then we’ll finally be rid of this nuisance.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com

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