The Do Not Call List only protects United States consumers from legal (but annoying) calls.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Spam calls are on the rise, and they have been for years. With over 5 billion robocalls made to US consumers each month, phone spam continues to be the #1 complaint made to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
To consumers, spam phone calls can feel utterly inescapable. The worst.
Despite the best efforts of agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), spam calls have yet to be stopped or really slowed down. Why? Most spam calls originate from outside of the United States, they’re illegal, and they’re not policed by the FTC. So… what can a frustrated someone do to stop the influx of spam?
For most people, the first line of defense is registering for The Do Not Call List, officially known as the National Do Not Call Registry. It allows consumers to opt-out of some types of unsolicited telemarketing calls – which can be helpful. It can also get their hopes up – because the Do Not Call List can not completely solve the spam problem. Not even close.
What is the Do Not Call Registry?
According to the FTC, the Do Not Call Registry prohibits telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell or landline phone numbers without prior written consent. Registering on the Do Not Call List is likely to prevent law-abiding telemarketers from robocalling your phone. Repeat: Law-abiding. It’s much less likely to prevent illegal spammers from targeting your phone.
If phone spammers are already breaking the law, do you think they’d abide by the Do Not Call List? Unlikely. Remember, for a company to robocall you legally and try to sell you something, they need your written consent to do so.
There is only one Do Not Call Registry for both cell phones and landlines, and it is operated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Once a consumer registers their phone number on this Do Not Call List, there is no need to re-register unless the phone service is canceled or service to the number is discontinued.
But the number of spam calls that continue to come through have people like CNN National Correspondent, Ed Lavandera on Twitter asking, “How many times do you have to be placed on a ‘Do Not Call’ list before the calls actually stop ringing?” It’s a good question.
Register and say goodbye to spam calls for good then, right? Not exactly.
You may be starting to realize that the Do Not Call List is pretty limited. It’s basically a one-dimensional CSV file of registered phone numbers that legally registered telemarketing companies must purchase to operate. To be legally registered, they have to buy the list, use the list, and abide by the list in order to maintain their telemarketing license – and make legal telemarketing calls.
So, that’s the law-abiding telemarketers. The list tells them who they can’t call, and it’s in their best interest to abide by that list – or risk massive fines. What the Do Not Call List fails to do is stop calls from scammers who ignore the Registry. Not to mention – it doesn’t identify spam calls in real-time, and it doesn’t use a dynamic database of known illegal callers. So, how many spam calls is the list actually stopping? Not enough.
Not all unsolicited telemarketing calls are illegal, though. There are times that telemarketing companies CAN call you (even if you’re on the Do Not Call List). For instance: If you’ve recently done business with a company, or if you’ve given a company written permission to call you – those phone calls are still legal. If you ask those companies not to call you? They have to stop. Otherwise, they are breaking the law.
Even if you’re on the Do Not Call List, FTC rules also allow:
- Political calls
- Charitable calls
- Debt collection calls
- Purely informational calls
Overall, if a robocall, which is a call that plays a recorded message, is trying to sell you something – then it’s illegal (unless you’ve given a company written permission to call you).
Like anything, there are exceptions. An example of an exception to the if-you-didn’t-give-written-permission-for-a-robocall-than-it’s-illegal rule could be your cable company confirming a service appointment. The cable company may use a pre-recorded message to alert you to the day and time of the service appointment, but they aren’t trying to sell you anything. It’s informational.
If a company hasn’t gotten your permission to call, and you receive a recorded message from them that tries to sell you something – there’s a good chance that it’s a scam. And whether it’s a scam or not, you probably don’t want to do business with them.
In a recent RoboKiller survey, 48% or respondents said they’d signed up for the Do Not Call List – and it’s almost guaranteed that those 48% of respondents are still receiving spam calls.
The Do Not Call List only protects consumers from legal calls.
Most unwanted calls received by consumers are illegal, so they won’t be intercepted by the Do Not Call List. These kinds of scam calls are often the result of caller ID spoofing or robocalls in general. Scammers use these methods to employ thousands, if not millions, of phone numbers to make scam calls – and they change these numbers all of the time.
I’m done with Robo sales calls. I want to create a Robo-Call service that just gives pre-recorded positive affirmations, then hangs up.
“I know some days can be more trying than others, but you’ve got this. *click*”
“Hey. Just want you to know that I’m proud of you. *click*”
— Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) August 7, 2020
What is caller ID spoofing? With Caller ID spoofing, spammers falsify the information displayed on a Caller ID to disguise their identity and get consumers to answer the phone. They may even use a number that looks like it’s from a local area code, which is known as Neighbor Spoofing. Neighbor spoofing can make calls appear to be from a local business, doctor’s office, or someone the consumer knows.
If you’ve been fooled by a phone number that shows up on caller ID pretending to be from a local area code or someone you should trust, like the government – that’s the work of scammers using spoofing. Spoofing can be nearly impossible to track, because most calls are placed from international locations. Millions of calls in a matter of minutes. And if a consumer tries to call back the phone number that called them, it will most likely be a disconnected number.
Here are some facts about caller ID spoofing:
- In 2019, around 70 percent of scam calls in the US used local neighborhood numbers.
- In 2019, more than 26 percent of all calls in the US were robocalls.
- Experts predicted that, by the end of 2020, 50 percent of all calls in the US will be robocalls, and many of these will use spoofed numbers.
Caller ID spoofing is just one type of robocall. What is a robocall? “If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall. If you’re getting a lot of robocalls trying to sell you something, odds are the calls are illegal. Many are also probably scams,” FTC.
In general robocalling is cheap and easy for scammers to do. They use internet calling services that average in the range of a fraction of a penny per minute. This means that spammers can make thousands of calls at once, and these calls are incredibly inexpensive to make. And when the scammers are successful? Robocalling is lucrative.
Most robocalls are made from overseas via the internet, they’re nearly impossible to regulate, and with so many VoIP providers – spammers have no shortage of options. The Do Not Call List doesn’t stand a chance.
What can you do when you receive illegitimate phone calls from legitimate companies?
It’s probably no surprise that legitimate U.S. telemarketing companies willingly violate the rules and make illegitimate calls, too. The difference is: These companies can be sued for ignoring the Do Not Call List. For violating TCPA rules, these companies become prime candidates for lawsuits from individual consumers and class action lawsuits.
What can consumers do? If a consumer receives a robocall or telemarketing call from a U.S. company that they didn’t agree to through “express consent,” they can sue and receive compensation.
These calls include robocalls and, in some cases, calls from debt collectors. A lawyer may be able to get between $500 and $1500 for each call that violates the rule. Another option is joining a class action suit against individual companies.
What The F*** Facts @WhatTheFFacts says, “In the U.S., the penalty for placing a sales call to a number on the Do Not Call list is $40,654 per call.”
In the U.S., the penalty for placing a sales call to a number on the Do Not Call list is $40,654 per call.
— What The F*** Facts (@WhatTheFFacts) June 18, 2019
For someone that’s been the victim of harassing robocalls and wants to take legal action, their first step is to retain their phone records. The second step is to decide whether to work with an attorney to try suing in small claims court themselves.
Remember, though – if you’ve ever provided your phone number to a company without checking the fine print, you may have agreed to receive these calls.
If not the Do Not Call List, then what about cell phone carriers?
Cell phone carriers, themselves, warn their customers of the dangers of spam calls and text messages. But up until recently, they didn’t offer much in the form of spam-blocking solutions.
That started to change in mid-2019 when the FCC tasked the communications industry with reducing robocalls. Because of that, “12 phone companies and 51 state attorneys general announced a plan to implement technology to identify, and eventually block robocalls.” – CNET
It’s called SHAKEN/STIR, and it’s meant to ensure that the person who’s calling you is real. How’s it work? The simple version: When you place a call, the service provider will verify the call and attach a digital signature to ensure it originated from a valid caller ID. The service provider of the recipient then validates that signature and shows the recipient that the call has been verified.
Like the Do Not Call List, SHAKEN/STIR will prevent spam phone calls, but it won’t prevent unverified calls from reaching your phone. It will, however, give consumers a better idea of which calls to answer – because caller ID will say “Caller Verified.”
Phone companies have started to use the verification technology to build more robust robocall blocking apps and services. Some of the robocall blocking services are included in the service plan, and others cost an additional fee. Not to mention, call verification only works on select phones.
Eliminate 99% of all unwanted calls, legal or illegal, with RoboKiller.
Desperate for a reliable solution to stop and prevent spam calls, consumers can’t rely on the Do Not Call List to prevent the influx of spam calls they receive. Consumers must go beyond the Do Not Call List and take action to protect themselves now. How can they do that when most available solutions use outdated technology and are ineffective at blocking spam?
Consumers should start by downloading RoboKiller. RoboKiller is the solution best equipped to stop the spam, because it uses machine-learning and audio algorithms to go beyond Caller ID. RoboKiller’s global database of over 26M unique scammer numbers automatically blocks known scammers for all customers – and adds new emerging scams every minute! The Do Not Call List can’t do that!
RoboKiller identifies who is calling and why before the phone even rings. It eliminates 99% of unwanted and for the 1% of unfamiliar phone numbers that are not saved to your contacts – RoboKiller’s new Call Screening Assistant goes even further to protect you. It answers phone calls and asks the caller to verify their identity and reason for calling. RoboKiller will then give you the information you need to decide whether or not to answer – all before your phone rings.
What happens to the blocked spammers? RoboKiller uses Answer Bots to beat spammers at their own game. They intercept calls by subjecting spammers to a lengthy recording, making them think they are talking to a human. While this is happening, RoboKiller creates an audio fingerprint of the call to ensure no other spam calls like it can be placed. Consumers get the last laugh and help put an end to the problem – while answering their phone calls with confidence.
Here are some of the other benefits of RoboKiller that you need to know about:
- RoboKiller utilizes FTC-award-winning audio-fingerprinting tech.
- You can add scammers to your block list with the Automated Protection feature (meaning that your phone doesn’t have to ring to block a call).
- You can use the Pause Call Blocking feature to stop calls being blocked if you are waiting for a call from an unknown number.
- You can send spammers to hilariously long recordings, hosted by our Answer Bots, that will give them a taste of their own medicine!
- You can control the phone numbers you want to block and allow the phone numbers you want to receive. You can customize these lists at any time.
- You can view all blocked and missed calls and see who has been trying to call you.
- You can report scam numbers you have found, which will help the RoboKiller community.
- RoboKiller has a customer service team (with real human beings!), who are available seven days a week.
Wrapping it up.
Spam calls have consumers feeling bombarded, but what are consumers to do? They can’t personally screen their portion of 5 billion robocalls per month. And the FTC’s Do Not Call List can only help so much. It doesn’t even protect them from illegal robocalls!
Consumers can rely on RoboKiller to stop the spam for good. RoboKiller uses FTC-award-winning, machine-learning and audio algorithms to go beyond the Caller ID and beyond the Do Not Call List. With RoboKiller, you know who is calling you, and you know whether it’s a legitimate phone call. You know you are safe from the ongoing onslaught of spam calls.
RoboKiller gives you the freedom to answer your phone. Click here to find out more.