Government looks to public for help on robocalls

WASHINGTON -- Those annoying prerecorded phone pitches known as robocalls aren't just getting on the nerves of millions of consumers: The government is fed up too, and it's turning to the public for help.

The Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the government's do not call list, has announced that it will offer a $50,000 cash prize to anyone who comes up with the best technical solution to block illegal commercial robocalls.

Last year, the FTC logged more than 2 million complaints from people who didn't want to be bothered by the automated calls, raising questions about the effectiveness of the do not call list.

The telemarketing industry says robocalls aren't the preferred method of reaching consumers. The calls are illegal unless a consumer has given a company written permission to make them.