Call for Action Investigation: Why won't the robocalls stop?

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) They're annoying, persistent, and above all, illegal.

"We're being called, like, every 15, 20 minutes...[then] we don't have anything for a couple of days, and then it happens again," said Kathy Lee Dyer.

Robocalls aren't just obnoxious; crooks are hiding behind that monotone voice, hoping if they call enough times, you'll give in and pick up.

These calls have also left many wondering in southern Colorado if there's even a reason to be on the national "Do Not Call" list.

"We're on the 'No Call' list. ... But we still get the phone calls," Kathy Lee said.

Kathy Lee and husband Kenny Dyer said they're sick and tired of the robocalls. They told 11 News' Betty Sexton they rely on caller ID -- and know better than to answer the phone unless they recognize the number.

"This is a serious problem," Kenny said. "I don't know what Washington can do about it, but it is something that has to be solved."

11 News was also curious what those in Washington, D.C. were doing about it, so we met with the man in charge of the 12-year-old National Do Not Call Registry.

Attorney Bikram Bandy works for the Federal Trade Commission. He said there are close to 223 million cell phone and landlines registered nationwide.

"There are many companies that do comply with the list, so what I tell people is that if you weren't on the Do Not Call list, you'd probably be receiving even more calls," Bandy said.

He added it's still important for people to be on the list.

Bandy said the problem is crooks don't care that they're breaking the law. And because of advances in technology, they don't need expensive, complicated equipment to reach thousands of people.

"One hundred thousand calls a day is not something that would be difficult to do when you factor in the cost of these calls, which is really about a cent a minute," said Bandy.

Bandy said it's that low cost of calls that's driving the explosion in unwanted calls. In order to change that, Bandy admits you have to figure out a way to prevent them from reaching potential victims.

He likens it to a technological arms race. As soon as the bad guys find a way to use new technology, investigators have to find a way to shut them down.

"We're fighting back with technology," he said. "We have a honey pot, which is a large set of phone lines that are set to receive incoming calls, and we can have illegal calls that come in and be routed to one of our investigators so they can hear them in real-time and interact with those callers."

Bandy also credits informants, saying they play a key role in helping arrest criminals working here in the U.S. However, it's much tougher nabbing those outside our borders. Which is why the FTC is encouraging inventors to come up with a way to defeat caller ID spoofing, so crooks can't make it appear they're calling from a legitimate number when they're not.

But, there could be a light at the end of the non-stop ringing tunnel.

Much like a spam filter weeds out unwanted emails, caller ID authentication would recognize the person calling people's phones, like the Dyers. It would then store the number, if it was phony, and keep their phone from even ringing at all.

To learn more about robocalls or to report violations, you can do so online on the DoNotCall.gov website.