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Article 3 (Sept 2017): The Robo-calling Epidemic Riles Millions
September 28, 2017Telemarketers have been a nuisance to phone owners for nearly as long as landlines have been in existence. Today there are more landlines than ever in addition to cellphones.
According to popular robo-calling prevention company YouMail, in one single month, June of 2016, there were 2.4 billion robocalls in the United States; an increase of about a billion calls over the previous year. According to the New York Times, this resulted in millions of complaints to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
It's illegal in the U.S. to robocall people who haven't agreed to accept robocalls. But that hasn't stopped the bad guys because it's nearly free to do. Companies set up a calling station from anywhere in the world. These networks operate over the internet and use automated systems to dial numbers, sometimes from a database and sometimes blindly trying millions of numbers. Once a person answers the phone with a standard greeting, the program connects them to an actual person to move forward with the sales pitch. Operating in this way means that telemarketers can call more people more efficiently than ever before. To make matters worse, adding a number to the Do Not Call List, historically a way to block calls, does nothing to curb the offshore companies that will often suffer no repercussions.
Although there isn't a fool-proof way to avoid these robocalls completely, The New York Times suggests that there are a few things that can help the problem. First, don't answer any calls from an unrecognized number. Answering tells the caller they have found a legitimate number and they will target more calls to it in the future. Just because the number shows up as a local area code does not mean that it is a local call. Second, look for cellphone apps that can stop calls from known robo-dialers on these devices. These services can disconnect the line, respond with an out of service message, or engage the telemarketer directly without you ever seeing the call come through.
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