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FCC Cracks Down On Robocalls

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV
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WBZ-TV's Jim Armstrong Jim Armstrong
Jim Armstrong is an Emmy-award winning reporter who joined WBZ-TV in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – It can perhaps be one of the most annoying sounds: your ringing phone, just as you’re cooking dinner, putting the kids to bed, or trying to get to sleep yourself.

Making it even worse: when it’s a robocall – a computer on the other end, trying to sell you something.

It’s been nearly a decade since the start of the federal Do Not Call Registry, but in that time it has not been a ringing success.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

The problem?

There are too many loopholes in the rules.

As of this week, however, many of those loopholes are supposed to be closed. New FCC guidelines are meant to restrict who can call you.

Under the old system, any company you did business with was allowed to call and solicit more business. But now, all telemarketers need your written permission before they can bother you.

If a robocall does get through, it must now include an option for you to opt-out immediately by pressing a button or two. In theory, you will never be called by that company again.

“Think of how many times you’ve picked up the phone and nobody is there. That’s a result of a company using robocalling or robo-dialing,” explains Somerville-based consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky.

“All that’s going to stop because now they’re going to need written permission in advance from the consumer.”

Dworsky suggests everyone enters their land lines as well as their cell phones into the Do Not Call Registry, but he cautions that even with the new rules, it’s not a perfect system.

“The trouble is there are so many exceptions in the law that still carry over,” he says. “If there’s a survey being done, if it’s a charity, things like that are all exempt, political calls.”

The only way to make sure your line stays quiet?

Dworsky says: “Disconnect your telephone. If you don’t want to get calls anymore, you’re going to have to give up that little device.”

The really frustrated do have another option.

For the first time, you can sue a company that isn’t following the telemarketing rules.

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