Robocall Challenge Draws Big Interest

Third Party Verification is one of the greatest safeguards available against consumer fraud. It’s legally required in many cases, and it’s always a prudent operational decision.

There are several laws and requirements designed to protect consumers, of course, and we’ve spent a lot of time in this space talking about the authority of the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, and some specifics about telemarketing rules and the Do Not Call list.

But none of those rules or regulations is nearly as engaging as the Robocall Challenge, launched last fall by the FTC.

Robocalls are generally illegal if not related to political or charitable initiatives. Complaints about the calls have exploded in recent years, and while the Commission has been active in pursing the offenders, technical smoke screens often make it difficult to track the origin of the calls. So the Commission launched a contest that offers a $50,000 cash prize and a free trip to Washington, D.C to any individual or group that makes a proposal effective in stopping the robocalls.

The three-month contest closed in late January, and 744 suggestions were received through the Challenge web site.

Technical officials from the FTC and the FCC will judge the entries on the following criteria: does it work? (50 percent), is it easy to use (25 percent) and can it be rolled out? (25 percent). Any winning submissions will be announced in early April.

The entries exhibit varying degrees of creativity, complexity and even humor, and they’re worth a look. Here’s hoping there’s a nugget in there that will prove effective in permanently disconnecting the illegal robocalls.

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