AP News

News Summary: Automated call complaints up sharply

DO NOT CALL IGNORED: Complaints to the government are up sharply about unwanted phone solicitations, raising questions about how well the federal "do-not-call" registry is working. The biggest category of complaint: annoying prerecorded pitches, so-called "robocalls," that hawk everything from lower credit card interest rates to new windows for your home.

THE HISTORY: the federal do-not-call list was put in place nearly a decade ago to limit telemarketing sales calls to people who didn't want to be bothered. The registry has more than 209 million phone numbers on it, a significant chunk of the country. Telemarketers are supposed to check the list at least every 31 days for numbers they can't call.

CRUX OF THE PROBLEM: Government figures show monthly robocall complaints have climbed from about 65,000 in October 2010 to more than 212,000 this April. More general complaints from people asking a telemarketer to stop calling them also rose during that period, from about 71,000 to 182,000. At the same time, fewer telemarketers are checking the FTC list to see which numbers are off limits. In 2007, more than 65,000 telemarketers checked the list. Last year, only about 34,000 did so.

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