Sophisticated Robo-Campaigns Ahead


Part 2—How consumers can start the battle  

The telemarketing industry is enjoying huge profits from enormously increased—and often illegal—robocalling. The Federal Trade Commission supposedly regulates robocalling. Given the enormous increase, not to mention criminality, of roboscams, either the FTC is overwhelmed by enforcement of regulation or is underfunded to effectively regulate. 

We are immersed in a world of instant communications supported by technologies and locations that make current regulations and enforcement look like a comic opera. The conventional systems for corrective legal responses that punish illegal robocalling are slow, out-of date and more industry-positive than consumer-supportive. 

What is not out of date is the effect on elected officials when contacted by lots of informed voters. Elected officials seldom answer phone calls, emails and letters with much more than a friendly form letter. The smart ones know one person calling can be the tip of an iceberg of anger. Really smart ones multiply actual callers by a multiple—like 50—to gauge how many other voters might be angry but not calling. 

We need new laws and regulations in sync with sophisticated robocalling technologies. Enforcement speed, size and punishment must be proportionate to the growth and technologies of the political robocalling that lies ahead. 

We consumers need to “inspire” elected officials to get the enforcement train to prepare to leave the station. The Republican Party—at this moment—has given us a president who resists “interference” with any industry. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has over a dozen presidential candidates never who never come close to telling us what—if anything—they would do about massive, illegal robocalling. In this situation, there are ways of getting their attention:

–First, if not done, register all your phone numbers with DNC. Use the phone you are registering and call 1-888-382-1222.

–Make three calls. Contact the offices of your US representative and two senators. Tell them that you want to know what they are doing to protect consumers from present robocalling scams and future political robocalling campaigns if false claims are made. If they ask what you have in mind, suggest actions like these:

-Ask that they subpoena records of campaigns including DNC numbers. DNC numbers are supposed to have been “scrubbed” before campaigns start calling. Telemarketers often ignore it. If a list with DNC numbers is already breaking the law, ask your reps if the robocallers were fined. (Ask for a follow-up call if they say they’ll check it.)

–Fines for DNC violations should be raised and widened. $50,000 per 100,000 calls made without first scrubbing DNC numbers. Add fines for invasion of privacy based on total calls made to DNC numbers at $500 each. 

–Expose all roboscam players and their organizations. The “players” are originators of scams, owners of telemarketing facilities implementing scams, robocall script designers, live operators trained to sell scams or state falsehoods. The FTC should publish such info on its website.

–Sanction foreign governments that house scam operations aimed at the USA. Much of the robo traffic and personnel are in other countries beyond the jurisdiction on the USA. Ask how the rep or senator would deal with that problem. (You could joke a bit, like suggesting drones to disable foreign facilities. But do add, “Just kidding.”)

And let them know you want the American telemarketing industry to punish members who engage in illegal telemarketing activities. Mention the industry has full-time lobbyists—and conclude with Roboscamming outrages are opportunities for elected officials to be the people’s lobby.

If you want the robocallers to stop calling you, start by calling your elected federal representatives.

NOTE: Part 1: Yesterday’s Sophisticated Robo-Campaigns Ahead is available from this website.

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