New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio

Telemarketing Robocalls On The Rise In Jersey

New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio — Tuesday, September 18, 2012

David Matthau Reporting

More and more Garden State residents are complaining about getting telemarketer robocalls — even though they're on the federal Do Not Call list.

Government figures show robocall complaints are up about 225 percent since the end of 2010.

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, the Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen Action, says the increase in robocalls "is a true testament to the fact that the Do Not Call law is not functioning correctly, whether it's for landlines or for cell phones...there's been a big spike up in robocalls from companies offering to do debt consolidation- save people's homes- all kinds of things- borrow money at very cheap rates — all calls that are directly connected to the economy."

She also says the second kind of calls that have totally increased, are the real calls from debt collectors. People that are out there trying to get people to pay bills that they're delinquent on."

Salowe Kaye says, "People complain about this all the time — it's a real annoyance. Some of the cable companies on landlines — the call will come through and they can see it's a telemarketer, but sometimes it may be your lender. So if you're in danger of losing your home, we want folks to take those calls."

She points out it's important for people to remember "the products and services that are being telemarketed to them are for the most part too good to be true — and if they sound too good to be true they are too good to be true ...You can report if you think the calls are being abusive — in terms of how many you're getting, and the times they're coming. You can report it to the Department of Consumer Affairs. You can also report it directly to the FCC and request to have your name re-submitted to the Do Not Call list....But to be honest with you, I get them all the time and I'm on every Do Not Call list that I could have gotten on."

Salowe-Kaye adds the law just isn't working.

"Obviously it's not if you're being bothered and I'm being bothered and thousands of other people are being called...In many ways, these telemarketing firms can get around the law because they're allowed to do so if they have a relationship with you. So if you buy something at a store and they ask you for your phone number, they sell the list and then the person that's calling you — can. under the Do Not Call law- they say — they have a relationship with this store so they really have a relationship with us...It's a weak law...The lists are meaningless and it sometimes ranges as much as abusive...The law must be changed."

The Federal Trade Commission says the registry is doing an effective job fighting unwanted sales calls, but officials do acknowledge that robocalls have become a bigger problem in recent years.

The calls are hard to trace because scammers use caller-ID spoofing to mask their phone number.

Listen to the report:: To the left, click the "Q" (QuickTime) or   >  to play, or download the 808 KB mp3 file, of this news segment (approximately 34 seconds).
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