Americans have had it up to here with telemarketers—particularly the robot variety. April saw 212,000 complaints about robocalls, up from just 65,000 in October 2010, the government says. Over the same span, complaints seeking a stop to telemarketers' calls rose from 71,000 to 182,000, the AP reports. Telemarketers are supposed to check the federal Do Not Call list at least once a month; while 65,000 did that in 2007, just 34,000 did last year.
The list has a whopping 209 million phone numbers on it, and the Federal Trade Commission says it's "absolutely working." But "the proliferation of robocalls creates a challenge for us," a rep acknowledges, saying the difficult-to-trace robocalls—which are generally illegal without a customer's permission—are "the marketing vehicle of choice for fraudsters." Political robocalls are an exception: They're legal, though when it comes to mobile phones, permission is required, notes Politico. Indeed, campaigns could be hit with fines of $16,000 for calling or texting those devices without permission, the FCC warns. (Read more telemarketing stories.)