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What is being done about robocalls - and how can you help?

Prerecorded calls, or robocalls, are not only annoying, they are illegal. Despite this, automated sales calls have increased at an alarming rate in recent years - mostly due to internet based dialing systems.

What is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) doing to fight against these illegal calls? And what can you do to make sure you are well informed and protected?

The FTC is aggressively targeting telemarketers who use robocallers. To date they have filed more than 100 lawsuits against 600-plus companies and individuals responsible for robocalls and Do Not Call list violations. Those who violate these laws can be fined up to $16,000 per call.

In 2009, the FTC established rules that protect consumers from robocalls, making them illegal unless the telemarketer has written permission from the consumer. It is difficult to track down those who violate these rules, as calls can be made from anywhere in the world and display fake caller ID information.

The FTC continues to fight back against fraudulent and unwanted sales calls by developing new technology to better track the source of robocalls. They also are working with law enforcement and other stakeholders to coordinate investigation efforts and seek justice for consumers affected by deceptive calls.

You can protect yourself from these calls by ensuring you are on the National Do Not Call Registry.  If you get an illegal robocall, hang up right away. Don't make efforts to talk to a live person or be taken of the call list. Often that just leads to more calls. Instead, you are encouraged to file a complaint against unwanted calls with the FTC.

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