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Telemarketers and robocalls have been a nuisance for decades. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was passed in 1991 and the National Do Not Call Registry opened in 2003 yet still, the problem persists.
A recent report from the Federal Trade Commission highlights the fact that 3.8 million phone numbers were added to the registry in 2017, pushing the total to over 229 million active registrations (as of September 30).
The FTC notes that advancements in technology have increased the number of illegal telemarketing calls made to numbers on the registry. Voice over IP technology, for example, allows callers to make higher volumes of calls inexpensively from anywhere in the world. Other advancements make it incredibly easy to spoof caller ID information, thus allowing callers to conceal their identity from both consumers and law enforcement.
Unsurprisingly, consumer complains about illegal calls – especially robocalls – have increased significantly. In the fourth quarter of 2009, the FTC received approximately 63,000 complaints about illegal robocalls each month. In 2017, that number more than quintupled as the FTC fielded an average of more than 375,000 complaints per month.
I know I’m in the minority here but personally, I’ve never quite understood why people get so worked up over telemarketers and robocalls. I follow a simple philosophy. If I don’t recognize a number calling my phone, I just don’t answer it. If it’s a pressing matter, they’ll leave a voice message or send a text message. Otherwise, I block the number after the phone stops ringing and go about my day.
Illustration courtesy Diana Quach