NORFOLK- The Federal Trade Commission has its hands full going after telemarketers intent on ignoring the national "Do Not Call" registry and making illegal calls.
Thanks to the internet, these illegal calls have become cheaper and easier to make. The FTC's "Do Not Call" program coordinator Bikram Bandy says the calls are coming from all over the world.
"We're seeing illegal companies engaging in illegal telemarketing using boiler rooms in the Philippines, India, and other countries," she states.
Registering your phone number on the Do Not Call registry, whether it's a land line or mobile number, is supposed to prevent you from receiving unsolicited sales pitches. It doesn't cover calls from a company you've recently done business with, charities and political organizations.
With more and more illegal calls being made, the FTC is becoming more aggressive at searching for violators.
In the ten years since the registry debuted, the government has pursued 110 cases against 500 individuals and companies. The maximum penalty is $16,000 a call.
Earlier this year, the FTC announced its largest civil penalty yet. Mortgage Investors Corporation, one of the nation's leading refinancers of veterans home loans, will pay $7.5 million. More on that here.
Kandius Orta worked as a telemarketer for two companies in Virginia Beach. She says she and her co-workers were under a lot of pressure to make a sale and meet quotas.
"The more sales that you got, the higher your quota would get," he recalls.
Orta says she and others would talk about contests to win a trip or cruise as a way to hook people into listening to the pitch, but she' s not sure if anyone ever won.
Although Orta says people should just tell a telemarketer to take their name off their list, Bandy says that not always a good idea.
"Don't demand to be taken off the list. The reason for that is a lot of telemarketers will take information and if they get information that an actual person answered the phone, and it's not a fax line or an unassigned number, they will take that information and compile that on a shorter list and sell it to another telemarketer," she says.
Bandy says the best way to deal with a telemarketing call is to just hang up.
Bandy says there is call blocking technology but you could incur a fee to use it, depending on your carrier.
To register your numbers on the Do Not Call list, go to the FTC Website. You can also call 1-888-382-1222. Bandy says it's important to filing complaints with the FTC when you get an unsolicited call. Click here to file complaints online at the FTC Website.