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The recorded message made it sound easy — take a phone survey and get two free tickets to go on a cruise. But, you guessed it, it wasn’t that simple. The call was an illegal robocall. And those free tickets came with a catch.

Today the FTC announced charges against the operators of a “free cruise” telemarketing scheme that made millions of illegal robocalls and dialed numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. The callers also faked caller ID information so it looked like the call was coming from a local number.

After people took the phone survey, they found out they weren’t done. Instead, people were referred to live telemarketers who tried to get them to pay for cruise extensions and other upgrades, plus $59 in port taxes and fees for each person on the cruise.

Robocalls trying to sell you something are illegal unless a company has your written permission to call you that way. If you’re getting lots of these robocalls, odds are the calls are illegal. Many of them are also probably scams.

If you get an illegal robocall:

  • Hang up. Don't press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
  • Report it to the FTC at The FTC takes the phone numbers you report and releases them to the public each business day. This helps phone carriers and other partners that are working on call-blocking solutions. Your reports also help law enforcement identify the people behind the illegal calls.

To get fewer illegal robocalls, look into call-blocking solutions. Learn more about unwanted calls at

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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January 12, 2020
These calls are mind recking,there has to be a way out. I have been called so many times since 2018 it makes no since. Even when you sigh up for do not call list somehow they keep right on doing it. I don't know who through up this robocall but they gave everyone bad nerves. They should be made to pay for the bad nerves they have caused me.
January 13, 2020
Got the same you've won a cruise call last week, and it was from a local number. You aren't successfully stopping them, they are still doing it.
January 13, 2020
Considering that many of these illegal callers spoof phone numbers, doesn’t issuing a list of offending numbers potentially result in innocent numbers being blocked?
January 14, 2020

In reply to by Cynic

My thoughts exactly. I have had a few calls where caller ID showed names of people I personally know, so I answered the call only to find out the number was being spoofed and being used for the scammers benefit. I usually call back to let the person I know, know that their number is being spoofed. I don't know what you can do about that.
Marianne Mangan
January 13, 2020
I appreciate the advise.
January 13, 2020
I never pick up any call that I don't recognize on caller id. I then block the number after it goes to voicemail especially if there is no message left. It is aggravating to be listed on the Do Not Call list and still be called. May not be a perfect resolution, but I don't want to be harassed by these people. Sadly they use their expertise for evil instead of good.
Johnny Ray
January 13, 2020
I don't answer unidentified calls. You still have to be careful, but legitimate callers are usually the only ones who'll leave a msg. Robocallers & scammers aren't big on using voice mail.
January 13, 2020
Simple: Make it a civil damages AND criminal offense for a business to hire, directly or indirectly, a company that uses robocalls for marketing. Make it a strict liability crime so no defense by cruise company or travel agency that they did not know the referral service used robocalls. This done with illegal dumping when a business hires a trash service to dispose of hazardous materials and the garbage ends up in the river or desert!
January 13, 2020
Not only do I get these calls on a daily basis, I am sick of them telling me I am someone else! I never give my own name or personal info... and the same people keep on calling even though I am in the DNC LIST! Whatever is being done, it is not working. Why not just make Robo calls illegal? I would back that without a doubt!
January 16, 2020

In reply to by MB

Yes, robo calls are illegal. They are breaking the law. Report them as the FTC suggests and that will help some.
January 14, 2020
When I see an unfamiliar number calling me I hit the answer button but don't say anything. I lay the phone down without saying anything. That way I don't trigger their recording or salesperson to come on the line. I have heard this helps my number go off their lists. I hope so.
3 grains
January 14, 2020
This year 2020, I hope you (FTC) can do more advertising to inform consumers that the donotcall website is not just for registering your phone number or reporting "legal" business for non compliance, that you can also report calls: Scam, Fraud, Impersonating a Government Agency, Robo calls etc.. And show how quick & easy it is to report them, that there's no long complaint form to fill out. Not a single co-worker, friend or family member knew about it. Every time I brought it up, they immediately thought I was talking about putting their number on the Do Not Call list. Their next thought was it was to much trouble, that reporting the calls required filling out complaint forms. Once they saw how simple it is & knowing that you're working with cell phone providers so they can be blocked from calling other consumers. I know the annoying calls dropped drastically when I started using my cell phone provider's free service to block those known &/or suspected callers....
February 18, 2020
How do you stop these calls from "any" cruise line or Marriot resort? They are constant!! Can't necessarily block them because the automated calls are being rerouted through personal and business numbers in the state of Washington. 360 area code blasts me 6 times a day. This needs to stop!!!
September 29, 2020

In reply to by SKFL

unfortunately, most scammers don't care if you have your number listed on the Do Not Call registry.
December 22, 2020
I got about 70+ of these free cruise scam calls back in 2017 (about 10 or more a week) and I never got any money from the settlement even tho I reported all the do not call list violations