Post Content

This month’s National Consumer Protection Week conference enlightened us about several new initiatives by two of the nation’s federal consumer protection agencies.

Deborah Marrone, Regional Director for the Federal Trade Commission’s Northeast Regional Office, spoke about current and future protections against robocalling – an illegal telemarketing practice where Robocall robots auto-dial consumers without their express consent.  These calls have been been prohibited by federal law since 2009 and the federal government is examining the exposure of consumer privacy when they are made.

Not every type of automated phone call is prohibited by this regulation.  Emergency phone calls – like severe weather alerts or states of emergency – are still allowed and very much needed for municipalities and relevant government agencies to contact their citizens in times of concern.  Political phone calls, like reminders about elections, are still allowed, as they’re considered an important public service announcement.

Though the FTC’s prohibitions have been fairly successful in eliminating robocalls, regulators still face challenges.  Scammers somehow find a way to utilize the newest technology to their advantage, and the need for new ways to block these illegal calls is evident.  Recently the FTC put out a challenge to innovators to create solutions that will block illegal robocalls.

After receiving nearly 800 eligible submissions, the agency announced its two individual winners, Serdar Danis and Aaron Foss, who tied for the $50,000 prize for Best Overall Solution.  Both winning ideas focus involve technology to “blacklist” robocaller phone numbers and “whitelist” numbers that you want to accept, filtering out robocallers using a CAPTCHA-style test to prevent these illegal calls from being transmitted to a consumer’s telephone.

The FTC also accepted a winner for the Robocall Challenge Technology Achievement Award, with applicants from an organization with ten or more employees. Daniel Klein and Dean Jackson from Google won for their idea that involves using automated algorithms to identify “spam” callers.

For more information on robocalls, the robocall challenge and its winners, visit www.ftc.gov/robocalls.  Click here for information and to sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry; click here for the Massachusetts Do Not Call Registry.

Written By:

Recent Posts

Avoiding the Impulse: Tips for Shopping Responsibly posted on Apr 18

Avoiding the Impulse: Tips for Shopping Responsibly

Today’s consumers have purchasing power at the touch of a button and a recent U.S. Bank Cash Behavior Survey shows that most Americans prefer using digital apps to paying with cash. While the new age of shopping may be convenient, it can also lead to   …Continue Reading Avoiding the Impulse: Tips for Shopping Responsibly

Recognizing rental scams posted on Apr 13

Recognizing rental scams

Deciding where to rent can be stressful and competitive rental markets often leave consumers with little time to give significant consideration to such an important decision. While it is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of affordable units one may come across during an   …Continue Reading Recognizing rental scams

Becoming a scam savvy senior posted on Apr 10

Becoming a scam savvy senior

In January, Undersecretary John Chapman was a part of a collaborative effort to educate the public about the warning signs of elder financial abuse. Secretary Alice Bonner from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan, and Division of Banks Commissioner   …Continue Reading Becoming a scam savvy senior