Federal Trade Commission announces winners of Robocall Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Federal Trade Commission said it has two possible solutions to stop illegal robocalls, automated phone calls with a pre-recorded message. The solutions were presented to the FTC by the general public as part of the $50,000 Robocall Challenge, which aimed to find a solution to the problem.

Both plans focus on technology that can intercept and filter illegal prerecorded calls so you can "blacklist" robocaller numbers and "whitelist" acceptable incoming calls. With this filtering process, those unapproved robocalls wouldn't even ring at your home.

You could do this with a mobile app, an electronic device in your home, or with a feature from your phone company. The other winner used a cloud-based solution that would ring incoming calls to a second phone line. The second phone line would identify and hang up on robocalls before they would ring on your main phone line.

Automated algorithms would be used to figure out which calls are "spam" and which are legitimate.

The winners will split the $50,000 prize and were selected from more than 800 eligible entries.

Google also had an idea, but since the company has more than 10 people it is not eligible for the cash prize.

"The solutions that our winners came up with have the potential to turn the tide on illegal robocalls, and they show the wisdom of tapping into the genius and technical expertise of the public," said Charles Harwood, Acting Director, FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "We're hoping these winning proposals find their way to the marketplace soon, and will provide relief to millions of American consumers harassed by these calls."

If you get a robocall, try to get as much information as possible. Then, submit that information to the FTC which they use this to track patterns and find new violators.

Also, you can try blocking the phone number with your phone company. There is sometimes a charge for this service. The problem is the robocallers often change their number by just one digit making it difficult to block all robocalls.

The Federal Trade Commission also got a few other suggestions from the entries. Click here to watch a video explaining the other steps you can take as submitted by other consumers.

We will have much more on this annoying problem on NewsChannel5 at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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