FTC: New tech makes illegal calls easier

New technology is making it harder to enforce federal rules about annoying marketing phone calls, the Federal Trade Commission said in its biennial staff report to Congress on the Do Not Call registry.

The registry, which consumers can sign up for to stop receiving marketing phone calls, currently has more than 223 million consumers, an increase of roughly 6 million from last year’s numbers, according to the report.

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In addition to more consumers signing up for the registry, consumers are also submitting more complaints about illegal calls, the FTC said, pointing to evolving technologies that allow bad actors to more easily make illegal calls.

The commission pointed to the newer technologies that allow callers to hide their identity and make more calls, such as automated dialing — or “robocalling” — and voice over Internet Protocol products.

“The net effect of these new technologies is that individuals and companies who do not care about complying with the Registry or other telemarketing laws are able to make more illegal telemarketing calls cheaply and in a manner that makes it difficult for the FTC and other law enforcement agencies to find them,” the report said.

In response, the FTC has worked with experts to find new ways to reduce illegal calls, the agency wrote, citing an October summit on robocalls and contest to devise “a technological solution to help consumers block robocalls on their landlines and mobile phones.”

“As new technology has created new challenges to ensuring adherence with the telemarketing laws, we have been actively addressing and [confronting] these challenges,” the report said.