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Crush Robocalls, Win $50K

Despite a no-call-list that essentially makes telemarketing illegal, the Federal Trade Commission receives millions of complaints each year regarding automated phone messages and so they're offering a reward for a solution.

You know people are frustrated with a problem when they start calling on the public for suggestions.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which oversees the do-not-call list, is evidently frustrated with the illegal, prerecorded commercial phone messages known as “robocalls.” The FTC will offer a $50,000 prize for the best technical solution to block robocalls, The Washington Post reported.

The head of the commission’s consumer protection bureau, David Vladeck, said the winner will not only receive the prize money but also become a “national hero” for eliminating an irritating thing from people's lives. The FTC logs tens of thousands of robocall complaints each month and more than 2 million complaints in the past year. The high number of complaints also calls into question the effectiveness of the do-not-call list, which has more than 217 million registered phone numbers.

While robocalls are not the preferred telemarketing method, The Washington Post reported, they are cheap and difficult to trace. Attempting to call a robocall back typically results in a disconnected number or different number than the original call.

The robocall challenge will be open to the public on Oct. 25 and will close Jan. 17, 2013. The winner, which can be an individual, or a team of fewer than 10 people, will be announced in April.

More information can be found on the Federal Trade Commission website.