(Photo: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
(USA TODAY) -- At least once a day, Carole Sanfilippo gets a telemarketing call, despite having registered her phone number on the national Do Not Call registry three years ago.
Sanfilippo, of Cathedral City, Calif., has complained to the Federal Trade Commission about the unsolicited calls, which she said have become more frequent than before she was on the registry.
"I think it's actually worse than it was before," she said. "I don't know what else to do than what I've already done."
Though complaints about illegal telemarketing calls have skyrocketed nationwide, some states have recorded more complaints than others.
Lois Greisman, the FTC's director of marketing practices, says telemarketers are "very likely" to avoid certain states if they've gotten into trouble with the attorney general's office for violating the state's do-not-call list.
Marguerite Sweeney, a deputy attorney general in Indiana, said 59% of do-not-call complaints in 2012 to her office were about computer-generated recorded messages often aimed at selling consumers useless extended auto warranties or enrolling them in debt-reduction programs. Identifying these tech-savvy telemarketers, she says, is difficult.
"Tracking down the telemarketers is a big challenge," she said. "The investigation leads us offshore and to call centers in foreign countries, and sometimes, the investigation leads nowhere because they're using a fake number. But when we can identify, we pursue enforcement of our law very aggressively."
FTC records show Indiana still has fewer do-not-call complaints per resident than many neighboring states. Next door, Illinois registers more complaints per resident than any other state - nearly three times as many as Indiana. Connecticut, Arizona, Colorado and Rhode Island also have more complaints per 100,000 residents than the rest of the country.
FTC officials say the complaints don't necessarily indicate more problems. Increased awareness about the do-not-call program, including outreach by consumer advocates and state officials, have resulted in more customers such as Sanfilippo filing grievances when they're bothered by robocalls.
Those close to the issue are working to fix it.
Aaron Foss, a New York-based freelance software developer, won the FTC's recent public challenge for someone to create a solution for robocalls. His creation, "Nomorobo," will be live by the end of the summer, with a basic version available for free.
Nomorobo intercepts robocalls before they get to the consumer's phone and hangs up if it perceives a threat.
In beta testing, Foss said Nomorobo blocked 80% of robocalls. He said he hopes to solve what he calls a "quality of life" issue.
Greisman says that Foss' innovation would give more consumers the ability to protect their privacy, a "tremendous, promising development," while the FTC continues to go after robocallers violating the law.
Do Not Call Complaints
In 2012, the most recent year for which the FTC has state-by-state data, complaints about violations of the national Do Not Call Registry reached an all-time high. Some states saw far more complaints per 100,000 residents than others.
Source:Federal Trade Commission
MEGHAN HOYER, USA TODAY