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FTC offering financial incentive for stopping unwanted calls

Many people in Memphis, Tennessee, who are struggling with debts often find that a large percentage of that amount is due to credit card debt. Many times, these debt amounts are accentuated by charges that were not authorized by consumers: add-ons to accounts such as identity-theft protection, for example, that people do not realize they have been paying for.

There have been large financial settlements made by major credit card companies in the last few months that have recognized some of these unethical practices; however, consumers are still at risk from predatory lenders who contact customers illegally, often by phone. The Federal Trade Commission, though, has come up with an incentive for people to put an end to these calls: a $50,000 reward for someone who can concoct the best technical solution to blocking what are known as robocalls -- unwanted and possibly illegal recorded sales messages to consumers.

One of the problems is the ability for scammers to manipulate the phone system, both by displaying inaccurate caller ID information to the people whom they call as well as by utilizing technology that allows thousands of calls per minute to be made to unsuspecting consumers.

The prize is open to companies with fewer than 10 employees and to teams and individuals. People who have a knack for technical knowledge and a large amount of credit card or medical debt might be able to stop robo callers in their tracks and come up with a large sum of money to pay toward their debts in one fell swoop.

Source: Collections & Credit Risk, "Robocall Challenge Comes With $50,000 Cash Prize," Oct. 22, 2012

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