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"Do Not Call" Violators Fined $1.2M 185

Posted by kdawson
from the what-part-of-do-not-call-do-you-not-understand dept.
coondoggie writes "A federal court today spanked two telemarketers with some $1.2 million in civil penalties for violating the Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Call Rule. According to the FTC, the companies called consumers whose phone numbers were on the Do Not Call Registry without having obtained their express written agreement or having an 'established business relationship' with them. One group's telemarketers also allegedly abandoned many calls, by failing to connect the calls to a sales representative within two seconds after consumers answered, as required by law, the FTC stated. The cases were filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC."
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"Do Not Call" Violators Fined $1.2M

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  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:18AM (#26637503) Homepage

    ...don't think the telemarketers didn't factor fines like this in the price they charged clients.

    This is $300 [realtytimes.com] billion/year industry.

    • by BradHAWK (1346147) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:33AM (#26637659)
      They didn't fine the industry $1.2 million. They fined two companies $1.2 million.
      • by mysidia (191772) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:54AM (#26637853)

        They didn't fine the industry $1.2 million. They fined two companies $1.2 million.

        Even so, $1.2 million doesn't seem like very much money to fine a large corporation for.

        Having $1 billion in revenue instead of $300 billion doesn't suddenly make $1.2 million a big sum.

        Oh, I see it makes the fine 0.012% instead of 0.00004%

        If the FTC wants to be noticed, they should set a minimum of 1% of revenue for first time/minor offense of calling a few people on the do-not-call-list

        The fine should be minimum 20% of annual revenue for a pattern of violations.

        And the penalties should be much more severe for repeat violators.

        That would actually encourage companies to obey the rules. A $1 million fine is like a fly buzzing around, that companies can ignore and still go about their dastardly business.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mysidia (191772)

          p.s. The FTC also needs the right to decide revenue on their own, bypass any tricks by the company's accounting department.

          And also include the revenues of associated companies.

          And levy fines against "holding companies" or other related companies artificially constructed to try to insulate profits or related orgs from liability arising from illegal business practices.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by fafaforza (248976)

            And you expect the government to know all that? They can't even see red flags when someone claims to trade 1 million stock options on an exchange that at most does 200,000 trades in a day. (numbers approximated)

            • The government does not see the flags when Madoff claims to his clients that he is trading so much. On the other hand, when somebody files a complain and the guy is in jail, even the stupidest of investigators can find out where the money went.
              Similarly, after the charges have been bought to court, it is easy to trace the shell companies that these firms transfer the money to. Accounting in USA is not so bad that cash can be falsified - only the Mafia has done that before and they have mostly been shut do
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by PalmKiller (174161)
            They should be automatically tax audited and that used to determine the amount, and charge them extra for the untimely audit. Plus that will add to their pain, if we break the rules, we get audited.
        • by pjt33 (739471) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:58AM (#26637903)

          There should also be other remedies available, such as prohibiting the CEOs of these companies from holding any company office for five years. That's the kind of penalty which sets an example to make other companies think twice about what they're doing, and I don't think it's disproportionate.

          • by mpe (36238) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @09:06AM (#26638033)
            There should also be other remedies available, such as prohibiting the CEOs of these companies from holding any company office for five years.

            Or maybe have to publish their own phone number(s) for 5 years.
          • by Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @10:28AM (#26639129)

            When a person violates motor vehicle laws badly enough, they lose their license to use a motor vehicle for some duration.

            When a lawyer violates the Bar rules badly enough, they lose their license to practice law in that state for some duration (or forever, if you do the types of things Jack Thompson did.)

            When a company violates telemarketing laws badly enough, they should lose the ability to telemarket for some duration. Prevent them from calling any customers (without the customer's explicit request -- if someone leaves your company voicemail asking you to contact them, that's okay) for a week for the first offense, doubling with each subsequent offense. Make it so that the punishment sticks even if they try to do some sort of corporate shell game ("No we're not HyperGlobalMegaCompuTech, we're GlobalCompuHyperMegaTech. See our freshly painted sign?") Eventually they'll learn (or be barred from calling customers for long enough that they'll go out of business before regaining the ability to telemarket.)

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by SydShamino (547793)

              Remember, companies have all the rights as people in the US.*

              * except when it could inconvenience the company.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Runaway1956 (1322357)
                Companies ALSO have RESPONSIBILITIES that people do not have. Trucking companies are responsible for $1million liability (usually through insurance policies), far in excess of any liability the average citizen is required to carry. Companies working with petro- and/or hazardous chemicals have responsibilities the average citizen doesn't imagine - UNTIL an accident happens. Nuclear plants have TREMENDOUS responsibility. And, no, companies do NOT enjoy all the same rights as individuals. They don't have t
            • by SpacePunk (17960)

              They are acting illegally to begin with, what makes you think they would adhere to any other rule?

        • by mr_shifty (202071)

          Exactly... to the really big-money offenders, a $1 million fine is just worked into their future budgets as a 'cost of doing business'.

          It needs to be something that either puts them out of business, or scares them into more legitimate business models.

        • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:29AM (#26640073) Homepage

          The fine for serious violations should be the greater of 20% of annual revenue for each year the violations occurred or 150% of the revenue that came from the violations.

          For added fun, charge the phone equipment with assisting in the violation of the do-not-call list and take it in a forfeiture. Yes, even if it's rented.

          Penalties that don't even add up to the value of the crime are better defined as taxes. Imagine if stealing a new car off the lot was a $1000 fine (and you get to keep the car). Suddenly stealing a new car would be the new national sport.

          If civil fines for individuals were scaled to the corporate fines, a speeding ticket would cost $2 or so and wouldn't affect your insurance rate. No need to waste time paying in cash at the courthouse, just mail a check.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by BradHAWK (1346147)
          According to Westgate Resorts' [westgatereservations.com] website, their annual revenue is "more than $400 million". They were fined $900,000, so that's about .2%. So in just three posts we've gone from .00004% to .012% to .2% - if we keep this thread going we can run them right out of business.
        • they should set a minimum of 1% of revenue for first time/minor offense

          1% of revenue according to whom? Corporations (and the government too, but in different ways and for different reasons) play these sorts of accounting games all of the time, reporting one figure for tax purposes and another during the shareholder conference call. It all depends upon which is more beneficial for the corporation, understating or overstating revenues, and which accounting framework they use to do it.

      • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @10:01AM (#26638733) Homepage

        So...a heard of wildebeest looses two members, that's not really much of a deterrent to the thousands.

        And the two wildebeest didn't even die...they just got injured.

        On the bright side...the $1.2 mil in fines will help the government pay for a telemarketer industry bailout.

      • by Mr_eX9 (800448)
        That's still a pittance though. If the court actually cared about upholding the law, they would fine these companies more than they could possibly pay, ultimately forcing them out of existence.
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:18AM (#26637505)

    Many judges are not sympathetic towards people who report the "Do Not Call" violators. They see the people who do report them as whiny people who are abusing the judicial system for money.

    Telemarketing, Spamming, and even Billboards, are what I call bad advertising. They advertise without giving any advantage to the community or benefit to the end user, or costs them in some ways.

    Advertising that helps offer free services, or reduced cost services are good advertising, wither or not this happens is at the ethics of the person giving the service, but not the advertiser.

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:37AM (#26637693) Homepage

      Many judges are not sympathetic towards people who report the "Do Not Call" violators. They see the people who do report them as whiny people who are abusing the judicial system for money.

      Many Slashdot posters [slashdot.org] are inclined to make vague, sweeping populist statements without a shred of evidence to back them up. [Citation needed [wikipedia.org]]

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @09:06AM (#26638031)

        They may be "vague sweeping populist statements" to you, but if you had been paying attention here over the years, you would see that just about every report of such cases that has made its way to slashdot has played out pretty much exactly as claimed. Try reading up on Bennett Haselton [google.com] and his efforts to use the law to punish do-not-call violators.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          Uh huh. And when Slashdot runs an article titled "Judge applies law exactly the way that we'd like" (readers: 0, ad revenue: $0), then we can use Slashdot as a statistical reference source to back up "most" claims. And by the way: if you're going to post a "citation" that doesn't lead anywhere useful, in the expectation that nobody will bother to follow it anyway, then you might as well link to Wikipedia rather than Google.
      • Ok I heard it on NPR Between the times of 4:00PM-5:30PM between January 2007- May 2008. That is about it, sorry, I am unaware to post something on slashdot I needed a Photographic memory, and I need to index every tidbit of trivia I pick up during the day. Just in case it comes up so I can reference it for you.

    • by ccguy (1116865)
      I've never understood why it was decided to have a do not call list, instead of a telemarketing list where *all numbers* used for this were listed.

      If they did that, calls would be trivial to screen, and there wouldn't be a list of people who don't want to be annoyed to start with.
  • by biscuitlover (1306893) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:24AM (#26637561)

    If anyone deserves a repeat spanking it's these people. I have to deal with enough marketing crap coming via my inbox & letterbox without having people call my phone all the time too. It's especially galling when people have explicitly indicated that they don't want to be called in the first place, as they have here.

    I wish the whole concept of telemarketing would just die a horrible death. Who really wants to deal with persistent salespeople when they're trying to chill out at home and enjoy the precious little time that isn't spent staring at their work PC?

    More spanking please.

    • by Asic Eng (193332)
      I didn't know that the US had brought back corporal punishment. I applaud it's use in this case, and wonder whether it will be televised?
    • DirecTV was BY FAR the most persistent and annoying telemarketers. They would call, when I said "hello" they'd pretend to be a friend..
      "Hey man, how's it going? What have you been doing with yourself?"

      Or

      "Yo, wazzup! Thought I'd lost your number."

      The funny thing was that they sometimes transposed my first and last names, or screwed up the pronunciation badly... Even after the initial, "No thank you, not interested," they'd continue their spiel...

      Sometimes I'd just hang up... sometimes, being polite, I'd cont

    • I have caller id and will not answer the phone when a telemarketer calls. I have an answer machine and most of them will not even leave a message. My phone company will not allow my phone to ring if the name or phone number is unknown. They get around this by having the name toll free number so I do not answer them and again they leave no message. I wish they would pass a law that they can not call from a unknown name and number. Last year even the political parties would call from a unknown name but a
      • As a general rule of thumb, if an envelope says "Important" on it, it can go right in the trash. One exception is tax documents from a known source.
  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:25AM (#26637577) Homepage

    From what I can tell, this decision is actually a blow to so-called "fine print" "privacy policies" and "terms and conditions" so prevalent on websites these days. In the article, it says that they were convicted even though their "fine print" said the consumers would receive marketing calls. It sounds like to me that those types of one-sided "fine print" contracts are not being upheld in court.

    The Westgate defendants purchased the telephone numbers of consumers who answered travel-related survey questions, such as "Select your favorite travel destination," on Brandarama.com's online form, the FTC stated. Many of these telephone numbers were on the DNC Registry. The Brandarama.com Web site did not refer to Westgate or notify consumers that they would receive telemarketing calls, except in language buried in its "terms and conditions" or "privacy policy" pages, the FTC stated.

  • Phone Spam (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bornagainpenguin (1209106) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:26AM (#26637585)

    I have a Virgin Mobile that I've been using now for nearly a year and I still get calls from all sorts of telemarketers who refuse to stop calling me, claiming I owe money or that my car warranty is about to expire. I recently made a report on one of these companies whose robo calls filled up my voice mail, only to recieve a letter back saying the report was 'unfounded' and wishing me a nice day. So while I'm happy to see there has been some action taken here against some of these companies I wish they'd be more consistent in enforcement.

    The other thing that bothers me is the increasing frequency of these types of calls coming over VOIP and their increasing similarity to spam. My fear is that unless we get consistent in enforcement we're going to end up with today's situation with email repeated on cellphones, just as it was on faxes and landlines.

    --happy one

    • It's illegal for telemarketers to call cellphones (or fax machines), because those types of calls waste consumer dollars. In the case of my Virgin Mobile account, 20 cents per minute/voicemail, and you can be damned sure I would press charges if I were in your shoes.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        Who exactly is he going to press charges with? The departments that oversee these laws rarely take any action (like he said, he tried to file a complaint, only for them to tell him they weren't going to do anything about it). So what is he going to do, dial 911 and tell the cops?
        • If the $6/hour minimum wage idiot doesn't help you then:

          - Ask for supervisor
          - Call state representative or his office & report rules violation & unhelpful supervisor
          - Call Verizon and explain that your money is being wasted by telemarketers (they don't like them anymore than we do)
          - Keep calling until they get sick of you.

          And finally, if I still can't get any help, hire a lawyer and sue the fuck out of them for wasting ~$20 of my money *illegally* calling my cellphone. Yes I am truly that stubborn;

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RulerOf (975607)

        It's illegal for telemarketers to call cellphones

        No it's not.

        My company runs at least two dialing campaigns that go to cell phones. In order for the call to be legal, you probably need a prior business relationship (though I'm not certain) and you do need to do what's called "preview dialing," where someone is actually on the line the entire time, from the moment the line starts ringing and until the customer hangs up.

        You may not like it, but should you ever get solicited on your cell phone, chances are good it was legal.

        • by danaris (525051) <danaris @ m a c.com> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @10:56AM (#26639551) Homepage

          ...and I've gotten robocalls on my cell, too, saying my car warranty was going to expire.

          If, as you say, you have to have someone actually on the line, then no, they're not legal.

          Dan Aris

        • I can see that Sears might be able to call me cellphone, due to previous business, but there's no reason for XYZ Marketing to be calling my cellphone and wasting 20 cents every time. That IS illegal.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-258164A1.pdf [fcc.gov] (warning pdf - it was either this or a word .doc)

          "Telemarketing to cell phone numbers has always been illegal in most cases and will
          continue to be so."

          "FCC regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone
          numbers. Automated dialers are standard in the industry, so most telemarketers are
          barred from calling consumers on their cell phones without their consent."

      • That's fantastic, but who's he going to press charges on? And for how much? And then how much time, energy, and money is it going to take to actually bring said party to court (which it most likely isn't going to pan out since these scumbags are harder to find than a bathroom in DC).

        It may be illegal, but I, this guy, and a hell of a lot of other people are getting spam called on our cell phones.

        On the constructive side, I recommend reporting the number to callercomplaints.com [callercomplaints.com]. I don't know for cer
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      I have a Virgin Mobile that I've been using now for nearly a year and I still get calls from all sorts of telemarketers who refuse to stop calling me, claiming I owe money or that my car warranty is about to expire. I recently made a report on one of these companies whose robo calls filled up my voice mail, only to recieve a letter back saying the report was 'unfounded' and wishing me a nice day.

      I'm not a lawyer, but I'm guessing that the law focuses on phone number and not on phone owner. So, since a business relationship was established with your phone number from the previous owner of the number, you might be screwed until some possible time-out period.

    • I had a Virgin Mobile phone for a while, and I was constantly getting collections calls on it.

      I'm pretty sure that Virgin gets its phone number pool from people whose phone service got cut off for nonpayment (and probably also have dozens of other unpaid bills.)

      The only way I got out of that was to port in a number from another carrier.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        I think the issue is that collections agencies try any and every possible way of reaching whoever they're after. We still get calls from collection agencies for people who sold our house to the people who sold it to us. They could care less if you tell them that you have no idea who they're after or where they can be found - they just assume you're lying. You can't even tell them to put all correspondence in writing because you actually need to be the person they're after to do that legally.

        Virgin Mobile

        • by tompaulco (629533)
          I agree with you. Collection agencies are at best only one step better than the deadbeats they try to collect from. If you do not legitimately owe a debt, but it has somehow been assigned to a collection agency, then they will harrass you even if you explain to them clearly how you do not owe the debt. On initial contact, they send you something telling you to notify them in writing or by phone if the debt is not valid. I have notified them in writing AND by phone, and still the next month I got a note say
          • by n6kuy (172098)

            I thought there were already laws against bill collector harassment.
            It requires, probably, sending a registered "drop dead" letter.

            • by tompaulco (629533)
              There are laws against calling people on the DNC list, too. But yet here we are discussing infractions.
              Basically, shady businesses will ignore the laws, particularly if they think the people they are dealing with are unaware of the laws. If you catch them on it, they will say "oh, you are right. We'll never do that again (to you)."
  • enlightening (Score:3, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:27AM (#26637597) Journal

    >>> failing to connect the calls to a sales representative within two seconds after consumers answered, as required by law,

    This happens to me a LOT, but I didn't realize it was required by law to answer. That's good. There's nothing more annoying than running to get the phone, and only hearing a bunch of clicks and nobody answering. Stupid corporations should be forced out of business, not just fined. With workers being fired left-and-right, maybe a few of these law-breaking corporations should be "fired" too.

    • I try to answer the phone as quickly as possible, attempting to lift the receiver before the first ring has finished. This freaks out the autodialer systems because they expect a person to answer the phone on the second ring after the Caller ID information has been sent. I get disconnected frequently doing this. It often results in much more than 2 seconds if the Telepestering person actually decides I am a real person and wants to talk/pester me as they are payed to do.
    • I refuse to run to answer a phone anymore. I have voicemail and I have caller ID. If someone wants to leave me a message, they're free to do that and if they didn't, I can see whose call I missed and call them back.

      When I pick up the call and its silent after a second, I put the phone down on top of one of my floor standing speakers without hanging up for a few minutes.

      You waste my time and I waste yours.

      • I like to do the same thing.

        "We would like to tell you about this great opportunity in vacation homes..."

        "Yea htat really does sound like a good deal. But hold on a second - my food is on the stove and burning. I'll be right back."

        "Okay."

        Then walk away and watch television, leaving the telemarketer dangling.

    • by n6kuy (172098)

      Or even worse, when you answer and a computer asks you to wait on hold until the bill collector is done dealing with someone else...

    • There's nothing more annoying than running to get the phone, and only hearing a bunch of clicks and nobody answering

      Try getting woken up by the phone at 6 am, sleepily picking it up from your nightstand only to hear a recorded message starting with a fogforn.

      I think everyone on the Canadian on the DNC list knows what I'm talking about. The number comes in as a 000-000-0000 number and calls a few times a week. Neither of my phone providers will block the number or help. What I have done is added the number to my addrese book, and given it a custom ringer of MUTE.

  • The cases were filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC

    There is no mention of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @09:01AM (#26637967)

    Unless those 1.2m are a sizable portion of the revenue (read: enough to make it unprofitable), it is just a cost factor, not a fine. A fine has to discourage. Unless the fine is actually high enough to make the illegal business unprofitable, it will not stop people doing this kind of business.

    Example: You run a scam that cheats people out of 100 bucks each. When you get caught, you have to pay 50 bucks per person scammed as a fine. Question: Do you stop scamming, or is those 50 bucks just the cost factor to take into account for your next run?

  • expressed* written permission

  • by RaigetheFury (1000827) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @09:37AM (#26638431)

    Most of the "really guilty" companies use VOIP with callerid spoofing. It's illegal but almost impossible to prove on a sweeping scan of the industry. You have to watch one company to catch them doing it and most of these guys switch their names, change location etc... and often times aren't even in the United States and thus, not under their jurisdiction.

    - I don't want the Government to be able to wiretap companies without a warrant.
    - I don't want the telephone companies / ISP's filtering content.
    - We can't punish the companies who use them because it could easily be used as a bankrupting tool for innocent companies (company A wants to bankrupt company b and "hires" telemarketing company as company A).
    - I refuse to pay my telephone company or the government more money for something that should be happening in the first place

    So how do we stop these guys especially when we can't prosecute them under our laws?

    Solutions
    1) Filters - You can have automatic private/unknown block. I know two people who have private numbers who would have trouble calling me. This is flawed because you block people you want to talk to and callerID spoofing bypasses the rest. If it comes to traffic identification that means ISPS are scanning traffic... uh NO. No matter what you basically you hurt yourself here.

    2) Fines - won't work on the really bad ones outside the US. A pointless endeavor except to inside the US.

    Sure the above two work to deter it within our Country... however I think jail-time of the company owners should be mandatory. That would pretty much stop it within the US. However... it's pretty minor here. Most calls you get are from out of country.

    Here is my solution... but its easier said than done due to difficulty of implementation. The requirements are the follows

    1) Create a complaint system where users can do *123 (or something) that identifies that call as an unwanted sales call.
    2) Users who have access to this feature must be on the DO NOT CALL LIST
    3) This system must be profitable for all those involved or negligible in cost or it's a pipe dream.
    4) There has to be a bit of leeway because lists are purchased and occasionally even the best companies screw up.

    When a caller identifies a call by hitting *123 it flags that call for the telephony company. It stores the data of that caller in a database. This database is given to a US agency who runs reports identifying repeat offenders or "areas" of the world where it comes from the most (including the US).

    This helps the US target those areas and identify the companies that relay those calls, or that companies VOIP id's etc. From this information we can block them entirely. Like all blacklists there has to be a measure of care taken before someone is placed on it.

    Good exploiters of the system are constantly moving, constantly changing to not be identified. Here's what the cherry in my plan comes from. When telemarketers like this are identified, it's almost a shoe in to identify the companies that do business with them. Begin to fine those companies. WHY?!?

    When companies begin to get hit with fines, and the threat of being identified as "bad marketers" receiving bad media... you bet your ass they'll start looking for more reputable marketing groups. You'll see a SHARP decline in the number of unwanted calls that occur.

    Unfortunately this is a long term solution and would take over a year to begin culling the data and identifying trends. Except one thing...

    AT&T, Sprint and several others have been doing this for years. They have the data, they know who it is... all they need is little push from a Governmental agency dedicated to spam! The fines and such would self manage this agency. When fines are high this agencies focus is here... when it's low this agency can focus on other issues.

    The best part is that when this problem becomes small... so will the governmental agency.

    My perfect world i guess...

    • by houghi (78078)

      What if you do *123 with a debt collector? Would they also be prosecuted for this? What if the debt collector uses a call center?

    • by sjames (1099)

      Even better, forget about 'caller ID' which says whatever they want it to say. Send the actual phone number that called (or if it's a PBX, the 'main' number that it's billed to). They're calling ME, they have no right to keep their number private.

      Next on the list is to narrowly define 'existing business relationship'. If I do business with A one time, I do NOT have an existing business relationship with B even if they did shake hands with A. I would like to see it narrowed further such that an existing sale

    • by mxs (42717)

      Two things.

      4) There has to be a bit of leeway because lists are purchased and occasionally even the best companies screw up.

      .

      Too fucking bad. If you are not unsure as to whether the numbers you are "purchasing" are opt-in, OK to call, you deserve to get hit with a huge fine. Quite frankly, even the concept of "purchasing" address and number information is something that should be clamped down, hard, unless expressly permitted by the person being called, and even then only one time, with clear audit trail, and extremely clear removal procedures known up-front, as well as tracking of said "transfer" of data so you can c

  • Now if they can just get the idiots that call me and tell me my car warranty is about to expire on a regular basis, despite me repeatedly telling them to take me off their list AND my phone number being on the do-not-call registry, I'd be happy.

  • by e40 (448424) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @10:25AM (#26639083) Journal

    I get them a couple of times a week. They're robo calls, with the usual "press 1 to ..." and they all start with the claim to help you with your CC rates and that this is "your last chance".

    Once, I played them. I pressed 1. Said I was interested. Was asked if I had "at least $4000 in CC debt." Once I passed that test, I was handled off to the closer, a really slick asshole who asked for my CC#'s. I stalled. He waited. I acted dumb and said I'd look for my statements. I just set down the phone. 10 minutes later I hung up. I immediately got a call back. At first, he thought I accidentally hung up, but I hung up again. He called back again and before I hung up again I hear "you'll be sorry..." The next 5 rings were people that asked to be taken off their list. I had to take the phone off the hook for 30 minutes.

  • It is nice to see that the "Do not call list" (DNC) in the USA has teeth to bite back at the abusers. In Canada we just suffered a huge blow to our version of the "Do not call list", whereby the list was sold to telemarketers and people on the list are now getting more calls, not less. What is the government doing to punish people abusing the list: Nothing! What is the point of having a DNC list if the government will not even step up and fine companies abusing it.

    • The Canadian one is a joke. Has anyone ever tried to make a complain? They require a company name and valid phone number. So they won't even take your complaint about the robocalls. Since I signed up with all my numbers I get an order of magnitude more calls. I wish I had never signed up.
  • Ditch the fine, reorg under a new name. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  • This seems like an appropriate place to throw this one out... it baffles me why nobody has capitalized on this opportunity. It shouldn't be *that* expensive to design a telephone that has call display that will allow you to block calls from unknown numbers, or at least forward them to voice mail, or do something.

    I mean, there is asterisk, but that is out of the budget and hard to configure for the average consumer. I would think there would be big money to be made there, with low development costs.

  • All residential phones may press *25 to charge the last caller $0.25, applied against the phone bill. No exceptions. If it's not worth risking $0.25 to call me, it's not worth my time to answer.

    The phone company must give you the $0.25 credit even if the caller skips out on their bill. Also no exceptions.

    I'll bet the industry quickly figures out who really doesn't want to hear from them and stops calling those people. Evening and dinnertime calls would tend to go away.

  • Damn, I was really hoping they got that infernal Nancy Miller from DRS. I get several robocalls from her every week. Even if you pick up, it's just a message saying to call her. Googling it suggests it's some sort of scam (I'm shocked).

    --

    Well, I finally broke down and called them back to tell them to stop calling me. They claim to be a debt collector. The person who they are looking for has my same name, but a different social and was married to someone else. My name isn't THAT uncommon, so I have to

  • by Cracked Pottery (947450) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:07PM (#26641757)
    This is your second notice that the warranty on your annoying telephone scam is about to expire.
  • Why set up the Do-Not-Call list if it's not a criminal offense to violate the order? It's tantamount to trespassing or mail tampering. Wussy fines aren't enough to stop shady telemarketers, who already know how to make it near impossible for people to trace their number. Tracking them down requires police action, not civil complaints.

    If the actual individuals placing calls and their superiors could be charged with a misdemeanor for each call, that would accomplish something. Robocalls might even warrant

  • The DNC registry should be scrapped and replaced by a law that any telemarketers that wish to make calls register all of their outbound numbers to a Telemarketer Registry. Then phone companies should regularly update their systems with that list (as the telemarketers do now with the DNC) and provide customers with a free service to block all incoming numbers on the list. Optionally, numbers from certain businesses can be unblocked if you have a reasonable expectation to receive calls from them (much like

  • I doubt that more than one in a thousand (or ten thousand) complaints will result in any FCC action unless the FCC is specially funded to support these actions (which in this economic climate is highly unlikely). The telemarketers are just playing the odds.

    I had an old FAX machine which used coated paper on fairly small rolls. For a while I regularly submitted complaints about SPAM faxes, probably about 20 in all, supplying all requested information and enclosing a copy of the fax. I heard nothing until

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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