— -- Robocalls are now illegal without your written consent, so why are we still getting them? Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, thinks it’s because phone companies aren’t doing enough to stop them.
The group has organized a campaign to let phone companies and the Federal Communications Commission know how consumers feel about these annoying intrusions. You can sign the petition at endrobocalls.org and I encourage you to do so. As I write this 180,000 of your annoyed friends already have.
“Americans are sick and tired of robocallers that invade their homes and try to rip them off with predatory scams,” said Christina Tetreault of Consumers Union. “It’s time for phone companies to stop dragging their feet and empower consumers to put an end to unwanted robocalls.”
Consumers Union wants phone companies to offer call-blocking technology to screen out robocalls. I’m on board because these calls are unwanted at the least and scams at the most. After all, would a legitimate company risk breaking the law with an illegal robocall?
Consumers Union gave the following examples of scam robocalls:
•The “IRS scam." The caller claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service and demands money for unpaid taxes, which has already cost consumers a reported $5 million.
•Rachel from Cardholder Services. I detailed this one in my column a few weeks ago.
•The Pseudo-Microsoft Tech. The recorded message asks you to log onto your PC and hand over sensitive personal info.
Apparently consumers in some other countries already enjoy this call-blocking technology and robocalls are way down. It works in various ways, either intercepting calls and giving consumers a choice to send the call to voicemail, block it or hang up or by requiring unknown callers to announce themselves before the call is put through.
Now if Consumers Union could start another campaign about my personal pet peeve, we’d be making progress. What I hate are those annoying automated messages that play on cellphones after the greeting but before you can leave a message. You know, “To leave a callback number press 1, to page this person press 2, when you are finished recording, press 0 for more options.” It’s 2015! We know how to use voicemail! We can send a text! Does anyone ever use those goofball options? I doubt it, but the phone company gets 15 seconds or so of additional air time each time you sit through one.
Opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.
Elisabeth Leamy is a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as "Good Morning America" and "The Dr. Oz Show." She is the author of Save BIG and The Savvy Consumer. Elisabeth is also a professional speaker, delivering talks nationwide on saving money, media relations, and career success. Elisabeth receives her best story tips from readers, so please connect with her via Facebook, Twitter or her website, to share your ideas.