Some would-be polls are marketing trick

May 15, 2012 4:04:05 PM PDT
With the political season comes political phone calls. One call that many people seem to be getting also comes with the offer of a cruise, but some say the company behind those calls may be violating the do not call list.

Do Not Call Registry will shield you from telemarketer calls, but political pollsters looking for your opinion on a candidate or a particular issue are allowed to call. Now some are saying a political opinion call is nothing more than a sales pitch.

When Laura Smith's cell phone rang, it was not a human on the other end of the line.

"It was an automated phone call coming through," she said.

The robo caller wanted to ask Smith some political questions.

Smith said, "It was not a person, it was a machine, so I just hung up."

The call was the first Smith has received, but Joyce Inman says she has gotten plenty just like it.

"I have gotten several like that and I just hang up," she said.

Consumers across the country report getting similar calls. Those who listen to the entire message report that after answering three questions, the caller informs them they have a free cruise coming their way if they pay a $60 port fee.

Monica Russo with the Houston Better Business Bureau tells us consumers can, and will, get calls from political organizations in the coming months asking them to participate in polls.

"Around this time you are going to get legitimate political calls and so obviously there are outfits that are going to try to capitalize on that," she explained.

Russo says the cruise calls are not typical political polling.

"Basically what you have got here are telemarketers who are trying to circumvent the FTC's Do Not Call Registry," Russo said.

Russo says in the past the FTC has fined companies that use polls as a cover for selling goods or services. She adds consumers who get robo calls that sell something in violation of the Do Not Call Registry should report it.

Smith said, "I have never thought about reporting a phone call that way that I have received, and if I did look into it I would have to do some searching because I do not even know who to report it t to."

You can report the questionable calls to the FTC by going to their website. But remember, if you are not on the Do Not Call list, the company is not violating any rules.

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