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Ridding Robocalls

December 7, 2012, 9:50 PM by Angela Kennecke

Ridding Robocalls

Whether it’s for credit cards, auto protection plans or medical discount cards, you've probably received one of those robocalls on your cell or home phone. None of the products they're offering are legit and the calls themselves are illegal.  

Those automated calls you get from the school district or politicians during a campaign are legal. But the ones trying to sell you something are not. 

The Federal Trade Commission is working to rein them in, along with the South Dakota Attorney General office of Consumer Protection. 

If you have a phone, you've no doubt received robocalls like the one from "Rachel" at Cardmember Services.

"Because it's an easy way for them and cheap for them to target tens of thousands of people all at once," Head of Consumer Protection Jody Swanson said.

The question is, just what are they targeting you for? It may be to try to scam you out of money for some bogus product; but sometimes it's even simpler than that. 

"They know they have a live number, a working number and they could turn around and sell that number to other ones. They make money in many different ways by doing that, be getting a working legitimate number," Swanson said.

The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on robocalls this fall and even held a summit to try to combat them. The FTC pulled the plug on five robocall companies, but as soon as they stop one, another one pops up, hiding behind technology.

"Because they've spoofed a number that's coming up and it's not a true number. That makes it even more difficult to track down because that's the only number you have to go on," Swanson said.

While the South Dakota Office of Consumer Protection wants you to report it to them when you get these calls; there is one thing you can do to protect yourself: 

"Do not press one or any other number. That tells them they have a legitimate number, a working number. Just hang up," Swanson said.

The FTC is offering a $50,000 award in cash for someone who comes up with a solution to block illegal robocalls.

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