The Federal Trade Commission (FTC (News - Alert)), the governmental organization in charge of protecting consumers and preventing anti-competitive practices in the business community, is offering upwards of $50,000 to any company capable of developing a technology to put an end to prerecorded telemarketing phone calls.
Otherwise known as “robocalls,” these pre-recorded messages often dial thousands of phone numbers throughout the United States offering a variety of services and sales pitches. Many of these include credit card and other debt consolidation services, new medications entering the commercial market, and other product sales and subscription pitches.
According to one report, the FTC “receives more than 200,000 complaints a month about the prerecorded messages.”
While some might wonder what is so wrong with over-the-phone advertising, the FTC claims that a large percentage of robocalls are selling illegal products or targeting economically disadvantaged demographics. And the trend is growing.
According to one report, “innovations in digital technology have made it much easier for crooks to use robocalling devices, caller ID spoofing and other techniques to run their scams.”
While the FTC regularly sues and shuts down businesses and individuals who make use of robocalling, the agency simply cannot prevent every single company from exploiting the technology. Many of these robocalls originate from outside of the United States, which makes it even more difficult to pinpoint the origin and prosecute offenders.
As a result, the agency is now offering an incentive for a company to make a blanket firewall technology that can prevent most forms of robocalls within a certain area or region.
Other innovations might allow consumers to block all automated robocalls from reaching their number, or allowing telecom companies to eliminate incoming automated calls within a specific area or market.
People or small businesses that wish to take part in the challenge should visit http://robocall.challenge.gov. The deadline for submissions is January 17, 2013.
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Edited by Braden Becker