Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hanging Up on Robocalls

Robocalls have a bad rep, especially after the latest round of illegal random calling to scare consumers into buying unneeded vehicle warranty extension service contracts. By this September, robocalls will be illegal unless the recipient agrees in advance, in writing, to receive such calls. Note that political robocalls will NOT be affected by the new FTC rules because they aren't actually promoting the purchase of a good or service. Too bad, because every fall brings a flood of unwanted and sometimes misleading political robocalls.

Although robocalls must now include a way to get off the list by pressing a button or using a voice-activated request, who listens to such calls long enough to get to the part where we can opt out? As soon as I hear the familiar robocall refrain . . . "Your mortgage rate is too high! Press 1 to hear about low mortgage rates in your area," I hang up. Lately I hang up as soon as the robocaller says, "This is your final chance to get low credit card rates . . . "

One type of robocall I don't hang up on: Emergency notifications from my town's government. When heavy rains caused power outages around town not long ago, I received a robocall advising me that an emergency shelter would be open at a nearby school in case residents needed a warm, dry place to sleep that night. I didn't need to take shelter, but it was comforting to know my town was ready to help.

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