PORTLAND -- It's dinner time, the phone rings. And it's one of those prerecorded messages to get you to go on a cruise, vote for so-and-so, increase your credit limit.
You once again slam down the phone in frustration.
So what's the solution? If you have one, you could be a national hero. And the Federal Trade Commission will pay you $50,000 for your idea.
Those illegal robocalls are one of the downsides of technology; it's now easy and cheap to spread the word in just a matter of seconds, to landlines and cell phones.
This year alone, nearly 4 million people filed complaints with the FTC, more than twice as many as two years ago.
It's gotten so out of hand the FTC is looking for any idea that will put a stop to them. The person or team coming up with the winning solution will pocket 50 grand.
"By offering a prize you get all the entrepreneurs, all the technical experts there trying to something not only for the fame. But to make some money," said Alex Thurber, Vice President of Sales for Tripwire in Portland
But finding a way to disconnect them is a challenge.
"The biggest problem we see is: This is similar to email spam, " Thurber noted. "It's gone outside of the U.S. because over the Internet you can make calls for free, basically anywhere in the world. So we've seen companies in Asia and out of Eastern Europe driving a lot of this."
The FTC will begin accepting those ideas October 25 through January 17. The winner will be announced next April.