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Reward offered for robocall-blocking technology

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A HTC smartphone (R) and an Apple iPhone are displayed for the photographer at a mobile phone shop in Taipei March 3, 2010. REUTERS/Nicky Loh
A HTC smartphone (R) and an Apple iPhone are displayed for the photographer at a mobile phone shop in Taipei March 3, 2010. REUTERS/Nicky Loh

MADISON (WRN)  If you’re on the state’s No Call list for telemarketers, those pesky robocalls are against the law, but it’s hard to enforce.

Illegal robocalls are such a nationwide nuisance that the Federal Trade Commission is awarding a $50,000 prize to any person or business that could figure out how to stop or block them. “It’s not only annoying for consumers, it also wastes time at businesses. It has really become a drain.”

Division of Consumer Protection Administrator Sandy Chalmers says, that means lost productivity and a whole lot of frustration. In fact, her agency has heard from businesses who have had to hire someone just to answer the additional phone calls.

“When you think that one robo-calling operation can make more than a million calls a day and multiply that by hundreds or even thousands of these operations working around the world, it not only is annoying for consumers, but it’s a real drain for businesses.”

Even Chalmers isn’t immune to the intrusive calls. “I get just as many of those robocalls at my house as everyone else does and I’m frustrated by it.”

Technology makes it so easy for “these crooks” to call millions of people per day. “And that does cast a wide net. And it doesn’t take very many victims for them to make money and to make it worth their time to continue calling.”

There are some exemptions to Wisconsin’s No Call law, including charities and political calls.Innovators are urged to visit FTC’s website to learn more about putting an end to robocalls. According to the site, the winning solution will win $50,000 in cash, as well as opportunities for promotion, exposure, and recognition by the FTC.

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