KISS MY APP: PrivacyStar™ App Helps Consumers File FTC Complaints

First Orion developed PrivacyStar™, a relatively new and increasingly popular smartphone app for the Android and Blackberry. The app's main purpose is to block unwanted calls and text messages, and to provide Caller ID for unknown callers so subscribers may take appropriate action by adding the numbers to their Privacy List. The app also provides a SmartBlock capability, which employs the data gathered from PrivacyStar™ usage to automatically block most blocked numbers; Do Not Disturb, which forwards all non-blocked incoming calls to voicemail; and more recently, SMS ID and Voice-Activated Directory Assistance functionality (in the Android smartphone).

After garnering much interest from the FTC, the PrivacyStar™ app now also provides an interesting feature that enables subscribers to immediately file a federal complaint against the incoming number. According to First Orion, an estimated 150 million telemarketing calls are being made daily in the United States and of those, as many as 20% may be Do Not Call violations. Consumers are able to directly report potential Do Not Call Registry and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations to the FTC straight from their smartphone. Moreover, PrivacyStar™ complaint data generated by subscribers is automatically fed directly into Consumer Sentinel, the secure government database containing information about complaints filed with the FTC, that is available to more than 1,800 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad for consumer protection purposes. In essence, the PrivacyStar™ app now makes it easier for phone users to file federal complaints. Though the complaint data filed with the FTC does not distinguish between complaints and inquiries, the app assists the FTC to gather complaint data. The FTC or the relevant law enforcement agency will then decide whether to open an investigation.

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