For months, I’ve been getting calls on my celphone about extending the warranty on my Subaru. The one I sold and don’t have any more. These calls were the main reason I’d all but stopped answering calls from unrecognized numbers (particularly unrecognized area codes) because they accounted for a majority of such calls. Now it seems that I’m not alone.

Earlier this year, I was receiving daily calls to my cell phone from an automated voice offering an extended auto warranty.

I’m an AT&T customer, but these car warranty auto-calls have apparently also been plaguing Verizon Wireless customers.

The companies are accused of using an autodialer to contact Verizon Wireless customers, and of masking the origin of their calls. Since January 2008, more than 2 million customers have received such calls.

Pre-recorded voice messages say that a recipient’s car warranty is about to expire, and tells them to press “1″ for more information. If the call recipient does, he or she is connected to a person who asks for the make and model of the car. If the recipient asks for information about the company, the operator hangs up.

As the story explains, such behavior is not only annoying but out-and-out illegal, and a $50K fine doesn’t seem anywhere near as big as it should be. The people behind these operations should go to jail, not only for the direct annoyance and loss of time they’ve caused but as an example and discouragement to others. I know no such thing will ever happen, but at least now maybe I can start answering my phone again.