Do Not Call list isn't stopping calls to northeast Ohio consumers

CLEVELAND - Do not call. It's a simple request made by more than 200 million Americans. Many say they are still getting unwanted phone calls even though they are on the Do Not Call list.
The Federal Trade Commission gets thousands of complaints a day about the Do Not Call list. This year, it took action four times stopping billions of calls, yet consumers say they haven't seen a decrease in calls.

"When they first came out with the Do Not Call list I thought 'Great.' The first thing I did was get on it, but after years here I'm realizing it don't work," Joyce Cullum said.

Cullum would hang up her home phone if she could, but it's tied to her alarm system. Now, she's sounding the alarm on a system that simply isn't working.

"I have been getting probably 50 calls a month," Cullum said.

Many are recorded messages or robo-callers.

"Most are from credit card companies. The worst one is card services and credit services," Cullum said.

The Federal Trade Commission took action against a credit card robo-calling operation in 2010 that the FTC said was responsible for calls you've probably heard.

"Hello. This is Rachel from Cardholder Services calling in reference to your current cardholder account," the FTC phone recording stated.

That was two years ago. So how is Rachel still calling?

"It's almost certainly a different company doing it now," said FTC Cleveland Staff Attorney Michael Milgrom.

Milgrom is a staff attorney for the Federal Trade Commission office in Cleveland responsible for tracking down violators. It's a tough job because technology is making it easy to spoof or fake the number you see on caller ID.

Even with a legitimate number, it's a time consuming process to find out who is making the call.

"They've kind of freed up the market so telephone companies you called that had that number originally sold it to another company that resold it to somebody else. So, you may have three or four resellers down the line before you find that outfit that actually owns the phone number now and uses it," Milgrom said.

Robo-call complaints are up. So, the Federal Trade Commission is holding a brainstorming meeting on Thursday.

"We are hoping this summit will result in ways to find solutions to this problem and get more of the robocallers," Milgrom said.

Stopping robo-callers in the home isn't working for consumers. Cullum said when she blocks a number, the robo-caller changes one digit and gets through the next time.

"I have done everything so I am desperate now," Cullum said.

We'll be watching the FTC's next move to put a stop to these phone calls.

In the meantime, if you get a call don't follow the prompts to get off the list. It just tells the computer your phone number is legitimate and may result in more calls. Instead, report the problem to the Federal Trade Commission.

So who can call you?

Political groups, charities, telephone surveyors and businesses with whom you've done business with during the last 18 months. Unless you tell that business you don't want any calls.

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