Robocaller Out

Every couple of months we report a crackdown on a robocalling operation, but no one ever seems to go to prison. I guess we should be grateful for small acts that put some  out of business.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says a robocaller is out of the business for good, it hopes.  Joseph Turpel allegedly sold services to telemarketers and the FTC reached an agreement that puts him out of the robocall business and requires him to pay a $395,000 penalty. But it’s suspended because he can’t afford to pay it.

The FTC says that Turpel headed an operation that sold robocall services to companies. His group made it possible for telemarketers to make illegal robocalls, call phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, and mask Caller ID information.

According to the FTC complaint, Turpel’s clients offered credit card services, home security systems, and grant procurement programs. He allegedly gave clients the means to hide their identity by transmitting inaccurate caller names, such as  “Service Message,” or “Service Announcement,” on caller ID displays.

The FTC first took action and brought Turpel and his company to federal court in the Central District of Calfornia in 2011. But it clearly takes a long time to get even a little bit of justice.

Do Not Call RegistryWhat you can do to keep a robocaller out. 

1. Ask your telephone company if it allows customers to block calls from multiple phone numbers. It may charge for this service.

2. You might also want to check out the call-blocking services offered by other companies, including Voice over Internet Providers.

3. Search online shopping sites for “call blockers.” There are a number of blockers from different companies and it’s a good idea to read the reviews and see if one works for you.

4.  Put a “special information tone” that signals a non-working number at the beginning of your voicemail or answering machine message.

5.  If you have a smartphone, look for call-blocking apps.
Use a “virtual phone line” with call screening options, forward that number to your actual phone, and only give out the virtual number. This option might work if you’re willing to change your phone number and are tech-savvy enough to set up call forwarding and screening.

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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created ConsumerMojo.com to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.