Robocalls: All the Rage

Wanted: Rachel, Card Member ServicesLike the character in the 70s movie “Network,” many people are “mad as hell and not going to take this anymore.” What’s causing all this anger? Robocalls. Yes, those annoying pre-recorded messages that try to sell you something you don’t need. You may have heard, for example, from the infamous “Rachel” from “Card Member Services” whose recorded voice promises she can reduce the interest rate on your credit cards.

A 2009 rule outlaws many of these automated calls, but cheap internet calling and other technologies make robocalling too tempting for many telemarketers. That’s why the FTC is convening Robocalls: All the Rage, a one-day conference —  it’s free and open to the public — set for October 18, 2012, in Washington, DC.

This summit will focus on the search for technological solutions to reduce the number of illegal robocalls. It’s a packed agenda, kicked off by FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. Discussions will include information about the technology that powers robocalls, law enforcement challenges, and possible solutions. The day will end with an announcement by David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Robocalls: All the Rage logo

Registration begins at 8:15 AM at the FTC’s Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., in Washington DC. Can’t make it in person? Watch the webcast. During the conference, you can tweet questions using the hashtag #FTCrobo or ask questions via the FTC's Facebook page.


if you track down Rachel, arrest her and fine her company.
She has called my house dozens of times. Enough is enough!

Great! My wife and I are at our wit's end with commercial robocalls. We registered with all the "do not call" lists. Hah! Joke. They are ignored. We get at least one every day, often three or four. One suggestion - Congress should enact legislation requiring all robocallers to register with the Bureau of Consumer Protection (like lobbyists) and to use an ID when making calls. Stiff penalties for violations. Another idea - require all telecom companies to keep records of robo callers and report them to the CPB. They should have the technology to do this.

Great! Long overdue. We registered for all the "do not call" lists. Joke! They're ignored. Small population of robocallers, but they call repeatedly and often. Two suggestions: (1)enact federal law to require all robocallers to register with CPB and use registration numbers in making calls, so they can be identified. (2) Require Telecom companies to notify identity of all robo-callers. They should have the technology for this. Thanks for doing this.

I wish I could squirt a big splash of water right into their robo mouths right thru the phone-maybe with some hot peppers included!!

buy top up cards that limit talk time to only what you ccan afford.
TEXT MESSAGING!!!! even less expensive.
don't have to be interrupted.
phone companies block telemarketers...don't they?

The politicians are the worst abusers. Don't expect Congress to do anyhting!


Not all robocalls are illegal; calls from political candidates and charities are excempt from the law. For more info, check out:

I have become so fed up with Rachel and company I just press 1 ( or whatever ) to get a live person then set the phone down and walk away. They hang up within 30 seconds . Since the robo calls come whatever I do i thought I might as well waste some of their time too.

I, myself, enjoy getting a live person after a robocall to have them "detail" me on whatever product it is. I made a game out of it. It started wit my brother and I. Get the guy/girl on live call, and see how long you can keep them on. For example, after they explain their product, you simply say, "I'm sorry, my child was distracting me." You'd be surprised how many time you can get someone to repeat the same things before hanging up.

Thanks, FTC, for finally starting to address this universal scourge. For years, the Do Not Call list worked. Then the predators realized no one was enforcing it, so robocalls (and robo-SMS) have become constant harassment. If the federal government cannot stop this pervasive invasion and abuse, many of us will lost faith in its ability to serve citizens instead of only businesses.

I hate those annoying robocalls yesterday about how they can lower my interest rates and all this other stuff I just hung up because I hate them so much they are a waste of my time!

Robo calls are irritating, but it doesn't seem like that is really worth legislative time - I just don't answer a number/name that I don't recognize- or if you DO answer- just hang up. Easier really than live

After receiving these calls for at least the last 7 years or more, I decided to do a bit of research. What I found was that most of these telemarketing companies lease phone numbers from a 3rd party company that is selling phone numbers for telemarketers to use that can't be traced back to the true origin. This also makes it impossible to block phone numbers because new ones are used and numbers continuously recycled if a call has been blocked. I know this because I've blocked all the numbers calling, only to receive the same call soon after from said telemarketer from yet a new number. Some calls can be traced back to land lines. Reports have been logged online by recipients attempting retaliation by becoming angry, blowing a whistle into the phone, or other such practices, stating that they are then being harassed with 3am calls, being sworn at or the number of calls increasing. Robocalls are often done in tandem, with 50 calls being placed at once and a signal alerting the telemarketer of a "live" call (ie a real person answering the phone, rather than an answering machine). The telemarketer will then connect to the live call, but will not be able to catch all of them, which is why people will often get a hang up or dead air if/when they do answer the call. It has even been purported that somehow these telemarketers are actually getting their call list from the DONOTCALL registry itself. Another report I investigated was that many telemarketing companies do get fined for breaching the DONOTCALL list, but merely pay the fine and continue on with business as usual. If these reports are accurate, then obviously whatever practices are in place to protect the public are not effective. The FTC can in no way keep up with the millions of calls being made every day by these companies, and getting to the root cause -perhaps making it illegal for numbers to be leased via a third party company? At any rate, the number of calls being made to my home for over 7 years is at a ridiculous rate, and I for one would be grateful just to have one day go by that I didn't receive one. I'm beyond angry and I just ignore them, or I have tried the tactic of wasting their time by setting the phone down, talking in a muffled voice, or even crank talking to the callers (which can be kind of fun). But I did notice on one of the days I did that I got about 4-5 more calls afterwards, maybe a coincidence or an actual po'ed person upping the ante? I don't know. I have reported every single phone number I've received calls from: "Rachael", "Card Services Center" or whatever they happen to be calling themselves at the moment, but it does no good, as these places just lease a whole new set of phone numbers to call from. And the companies that lease phone numbers are not held responsible at all legally for any actions made by the phone number yea, I DO think it's time for some legislative action with this. It's as intrusive as someone knocking on my front door uninvited- and I can put a no trespassing sign up that legally prevents people from entering my property uninvited. I consider my phone to be entering my property because the call is entering my the very same laws should exist for unwanted phone callers, as exists for people knocking on my door to solicit business from me.

There is a way to ID these people even though they use phony caller-id. If you play along with the rep and when they ask for the phone number on the back of your credit card, give them a number that you can answer - when they call it their proper caller-id will show up and you can ID them. I did this and found the calls originating from these numbers: 877-356-8543, 352-364-1762. When I called back, I got the same scammer who called me. They sometimes put fax machines on the line or other things but might as well waste their time and 800 charges by calling them.

Your post very useful

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

Read Our Privacy Act Statement

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.