Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Not Just You

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Not Just You

Article excerpt

Calls can be made cheaply over the Internet from anywhere in the world.

" 'Do Not Call Registry'? More like 'Does Not Work Registry.' "

Sen. Bob Menendez

D-New Jersey

The phone rings. It looks like a local number. You answer, only to hear: "Hi, this is Julie from the rewards center ..."

If you hang up from yet another uninvited robocall and think, "This is getting worse," you're right.

New data from the Federal Trade Commission show that New Jersey residents on the FTC's Do Not Call list made more complaints, per capita, than any other state about robocalls last year. All told, state residents filed 321,393 complaints, which works out to about 3,600 people out of every 100,000. The next-highest state, Delaware, had 2,900 complaints per 100,000 residents.

Nationally, complaints rose 32% last year, to 4.5 million, and that followed a 60% increase in 2016 and a 22% increase in 2015.

The FTC cites several factors for the increase. Calls can be made cheaply over the Internet from anywhere in the world, and technology makes it easy for someone who does not want to follow the law against calling someone on the Do Not Call list to "spoof" the source of the call.

"In 2017, reports of 'neighborhood' caller ID spoofing, where the caller displays a caller ID number with the same area code and exchange as the called party, have also increased," the FTC said.

The increase in complaints could also be because of technology, according to Margot Saunders, senior counsel at the National Consumer Law Center.

Apps that people can buy to block unwanted calls to smartphones not only log the numbers and block those calls from being made to other app customers, they also file a complaint with the FTC, Saunders said.

Congress also changed the law in 2015 to allow calls to people on the Do Not Call list by someone trying to collect a federal debt. …

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