FTC offers reward for innovator who can stop robocalls


FTC / Federal Trade CommissionJust about everybody hates robocalls, and the FTC has taken a page out of the Old West, in essence putting up the modern equivalent of a wanted poster and offering a reward. In this case, an inventor who can figure out how to block the calls can earn $50K.

The FTC is running the contest in hopes of blocking illegal calls sent to both landline and mobile phones.

“The FTC is attacking illegal robocalls on all fronts, and one of the things that we can do as a government agency is to tap into the genius and technical expertise among the public,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, when he announced the challenge and prize this afternoon at the Commission’s Robocall Summit. “We think this will be an effective approach in the case of robocalls because the winner of our challenge will become a national hero.”

FTC defined the varmints it is targeting: “A commercial robocall is a telephone call that delivers a recorded sales message. These calls often are unwanted and frequently deceptive. Under the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, the vast majority of commercial robocalls are illegal unless the recipient has given the caller advance written permission to call them.”

Entries are being accepted from 10/25/12 through 1/17/13. Details are available at Challenge.gov.