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Google strikes back at robocalls

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NEW YORK — Google is getting more aggressive about fighting illegal robocalls — the automated phone calls that try to mislead people and phish for private information.

The company is starting with a plan that targets fraudulent businesses that pretend to help people improve their Google search rankings.

On Wednesday, Google launched a new online form for reporting robocalls. It also set up a new resource guide and brought a lawsuit against an online marketing company.

The suit marks the first time Google has sued a company for naming Google products in a telemarketing scheme.

“Since the beginning of 2015, we’ve received hundreds of complaints from users about robocalls they’ve received from businesses claiming to be affiliated with Google,” Brad Wetherall, a company manager, wrote in a blog post.

Robocalling is an issue that affects more than just Google’s millions of advertisers. The Federal Communications Commission says it’s the largest category of complaints it receives. In 2014, the government agency got more than 215,000 complaints about unwanted calls.

If you get a call, Google says you should hang up and never press any key — even if a recording asks you to talk to someone live or to be taken off a calling list.

Google also recommended contacting phone companies to block robocalling numbers, and report cases to the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission.

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