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States Try to Silence Robocalls, But They’re Worse Than Ever

Pew – “Robocalls — those nettlesome autodial telephone calls from both scammers and legitimate businesses — skyrocketed in the first half of 2018, and have prompted the most complaints to federal and most state enforcement officials of any consumer topic in recent years. But as much as top state law enforcement officers would love to go after the robocallers, who often operate outside the law, the combined hurdles of technology, economics and geography make the job difficult. Robocalls jumped dramatically nationwide this year, from 2.9 billion in January to 4.1 billion in June, according to YouMail Inc., a company that tracks robocalls and sells software to block them. Unwanted calls are the biggest complaint to the Federal Communications Commission, making up about 60 percent of complaints the agency gets. Robocalls also are the top complaint at the Federal Trade Commission, which in fiscal 2017 received more than 4.5 million robocall complaints. [h/t Pete Weiss]

Robocalls are the No. 1 consumer complaint to the Federal Communications Commission, its chairman said last year. “It’s the No. 1 consumer complaint,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, referencing the national figures. “The Do Not Call list doesn’t work.” That list is not the real problem, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which is the lead federal agency, along with the FCC, in tracking and prosecuting unlawful telephone scams, which often involve robocalls. The Do Not Call Registry, on which telephone customers can put their numbers and request not to be bothered by telemarketers, does work — up to a point. The call registry does the job it was intended to do by blocking calls from companies that follow the law, said Barlow, of the FTC. “If people are speeding on the highway, does that mean speed limits are broken?” The problem is that many companies, both in the United States and overseas, don’t obey the law…

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