It happened twice this week— a robocall from a”Card Services Company” offering me my “last chance” for better credit card interest rates.   I’m on the National “Do Not Call” list but I’ve been getting this exact “last chance call” repeatedly over the last few months.  There’s been a significant increase in the volume of illegal robocalls.  There are companies out there flagrantly violating the “Do Not Call” prohibition by spewing out thousands of calls using autodialers.

People have been complaining to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  and the FTC is increasing its efforts to tackle this issue.  On July 10th, the FTC posted a new “robocalls web page” (www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/robocalls).  I’ve read the materials, which are well written and very helpful.

One resource is titled  “What’s a Robocall & What To Do When You Get One”.  The resource explains the difference between a legal robocall (i.e., from a religious or political group or a group you’ve approved) versus an illegal robocall (i.e., from a company or group you haven’t given permission to call you).

In that resource, the FTC lists the following key steps:

  1. Hang up immediately.  The robocall might tell you to press a number (maybe “1”) to get off their list.  Don’t hit any number — it won’t work and you’ll keep getting calls.
  2. If the number shows up, consider having it blocked.
  3. Report the call, or calls, to the FTC.

There is a link in Step 3 that will take you to the FTC’s site to file a complaint.  I did that after this latest round of “last chances” — the process to do so is clearly laid out and requires only the information you have.  So don’t hesitate to file a complaint because,  for example, you didn’t get the phone number of the robocall.

The FTC is also holding a “Robocalls Public Summit” on October 18th. They want to hear from the public, consumer groups, legitimate industries, policymakers, technologists and other stakeholders.  What they learn on the 18th will help the FTC develop even more effective enforcement tools.

The figures are staggering. The FTC’s enforcement actions have stopped, to date, companies that have sent out 2.6 billion illegal telemarketing robocalls.  And what are these calls selling?  They’re trying to scam people into buying home security systems, alleged auto warranty protection and yes, fraudulent credit card services — the “last chance” calls I’ve been getting.

All anyone gets from these illegal robocalls is being ripped off — losing personal and financial information.

The FTC is offering excellent resources to help consumers — going to their website is time well spent.