What Is a Robocall?
A robocall is a phone call that uses a computerized autodialer to deliver a pre-recorded message. Robocalls are sometimes used for distributing helpful public-service or emergency announcements, as well as political or telemarketing phone campaigns. However, other robocalls can compromise public safety and privacy by subjecting consumers to intrusive debt collection and telemarketing tactics.
If you get a phone call and a recorded message is on the other end instead of a live person, you are dealing with a robocall. If you are receiving robocalls attempting to sell you something, chances are the calls are not legal - and are most likely scams.
Companies must have your written permission to place a robocall to you to sell you something, otherwise it is illegal. They must be clear about their request to call you with robocalls and gain your permission. It cannot make you agree to receive these calls to get a service or product. If you do give a company permission, you can always change your mind later and withdraw your consent.
Methods on Stopping Robocalls
The FCC is dedicated to doing what they can to protect you from these types of automated calls and unwelcome messages. They are taking various steps to crack down on illegal calls, such as:
- Budgeting millions of dollars to take enforcement actions against robocallers.
- Making it mandatory that phone companies use caller ID to help decrease illegal spoofing.
- Empowering phone companies to block unwanted or illegal calls by default before the calls even reach individuals.
- Making consumer complaint information available to allow for better labeling and call blocking solutions.
- Enabling consumer options or tools for blocking calls from numbers that don't appear on their contact list or another "white list."
To find resources on available blocking and labeling tools currently available to consumers visit https://www.fcc.gov/call-blocking.
What You Can Do
The FCC has provided some simple steps you can take to help decrease robocalls:
- Do not answer calls from unknown or blocked numbers.
- Do not assume a call from an unknown number that appears to be a local number is safe. They are able to disguise the location to make them appear to be a local phone call.
- Hang up on any calls where you hear a recording like, "Hello, can you hear me?"
- If you receive a call from someone that says they are from a certain company, hang up and place a call to that company yourself. You can find the company's official number on their website.
- Do not answer questions that a simple "yes" can answer.
- Never give out personal information such as address, maiden names, or social security numbers.
- Hang up on any call that requires you to press a number to connect with a representative. By pressing a number or interacting with voice prompts, you let spammers know your number is genuine. They then can turn around and target your number more often or sell it to another company.
Keep an eye out for common phone scams, such as those scam calls that impersonate the government. If you receive a call from someone asking you to pay with a gift card, wire money, or hand over personal information, it is a scam.
Look into call-blocking services to get fewer illegal robocalls. The call-blocking solution you decide on depends on where you are receiving the robocalls, whether on your traditional landline, mobile phone, or home phone, using the internet (VoIP).