Today the Federal Trade Commission lowered the boom on a California-based telemarketing group that was targeting Spanish-speaking women with false promises that they could make money reselling brand name goods, such as Gucci and Ralph Lauren.
Despite this success story, mobile users are still plagued by random calls from telemarketers, and harassing or even illegal calls from debt collectors. But, yes, there’s an app for that, and it’s every slimy phone jockey and boiler room con artist’s worst nightmare.
PrivacyStar makes an app for Android and iPhone that lets the user block known telemarketers, and even provides them a way to automatically report them to the FTC. Perhaps the biggest thing the app does is block the calls of telemarketing firms who are calling users who have put themselves on a Do Not Call list.
It then can automatically report those offenders to the FTC. In fact, PrivacyStar says that more than 30 percent of such complaints made to the FTC last year came through the app.
PrivacyStar, which was founded in 2008, says it has blocked more than 120 million calls for users and filed over 300,000 complaints directly with the FTC.
For any of the millions of Americans who have become victims of illegal or harassing telemarketing or bill collection calls, PrivacyStar can also suggest legal resources to help them gain retribution. Some PrivacyStar users have had six-figure settlements, the company says.
PrivacyStar CEO Jeff Stalnaker told VentureBeat the app is simply meant to hold callers to the terms of federal Do Not Call rules, and to the rules in the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
PrivacyStar says it works with all four major wireless carriers, and a number of other smaller carriers (like Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS) to track the calls of scammers, telemarketers, and harassing bill collectors.