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Hanging up on robocalls

robot on the phone

The Federal Trade Commission tapped the Challenge.gov contest platform to find new ways to hang up on illegal robocallers -- telemarketers who use automatic dialers to contact consumers and play them prerecorded messages.

The agency on April 2 named Serdar Danis and Aaron Foss as the winners of $25,000 each for their proposals for systems that identify and block robocalls, which use techniques like caller ID spoofing to trick unsuspecting consumers. The FTC also bestowed a non-monetary award on two entrants from Google, who proposed a system to use algorithms to identify illegal callers.

While the FTC can’t implement or even endorse specific solutions on its own, the agency’s consumer protection chief Charles Harwood said that he hoped the results of the contest on the Challenge.gov platform would inspire the private sector to take up the problem of marketing robocalls. Every month, the FTC receives about 200,000 consumer complaints about robocalls, Harwood said.

The FTC launched the contest on the Challenge.gov platform in August of last year, drawing almost 800 eligible entries. Entrants got access to FTC datasets on robocalls, covering four years of consumer complaints.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Apr 02, 2013 at 12:10 PM


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