Receiving unwanted robocalls from “cardholder services”, “sweepstakes winners”, or even the “IRS”? You’re not alone. Robocalls effect roughly 13 million consumers per day nationwide. That’s a lot of wasted hours, interrupted dinners, and potential dollars lost to fraud.
As a consumer and a likely recipient of robocalls, there is plenty of legislation designed to help protect you from illegal spam calls. However, if you want to stop robocalls for yourself, it is important to understand the limitations of these laws and to find ways to protect yourself.
Understand your Rights: the Rules of the Robocall Road
Not all robocalls are considered spam. Legitimate companies are legally allowed to send robocalls to consumers’ cellular & landline phone numbers under some conditions. For example, US laws permit forms of robocalling that contain necessary consumer information such as appointment reminders, flight cancellations, updates from schools, and credit-card fraud alerts. Non-profits and market research robocalls to landline phones are not restricted by FCC laws, but require the caller to identify themselves and provide a contact phone number at the beginning of the message.
Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, FCC rules require a business to collect written consent on paper or electronic consent including website forms, a telephone keypress, or a verbal recording of consent – prior to making a prerecorded telemarketing call to a residential OR mobile phone number. An “established business relationship” has never been an appropriate reason to place a robocall to a mobile or landline phone.
The FCC also states that telephone solicitation calls to your home are not permitted before 8 am or after 9 pm, and the caller is required to immediately accommodate any do-not-call request made by the recipient. The caller must also provide his or her name, the name of the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made, and the telephone number and address where that person or entity can be contacted, regardless of if the call is pre-recorded.
Unsubscribe: Opting Out of Robocall Communication
To opt out of robocall communication, laws require the telemarketer to provider an option to decline receiving additional telemarketing robocalls during the call through an automated menu. The option to opt-out must be announced in the message and must be available throughout the entire call.
Consumers can revoke permission to be called or texted from the entity at any time, even if permission was once granted. A company cannot require someone to fill out a form and mail it in as the only way to opt-out. Many times, illegal robocallers will place calls in which the automated opt-out menu is not working, keeping you on the line for many minutes while trying to unsubscribe. This is a trick designed to allow robocallers to identify that there is a real person behind the phone, so they can flag your phone number and continue to call you.
Recommended Resolutions to the Robocall Problem
Due to the complexity and scope of the robocalls, there is no one-size fits all solution. Laws are designed to help protect consumers and inform the public of preventative steps to take to reduce unwanted robocalls, but unfortunately they are not equip to stop the problem entirely. Taking the following precautionary steps can ensure you are protected by the FTC & FCC laws and regulations.
The Do Not Call Registry is a nationwide do-not-call list that prevents legally registered companies from placing telephone solicitation calls to your phone number. The FTC and FCC recommend listing both your mobile and landline phone number(s) on this registry to reduce the number of unwanted calls placed to your phone. It is important to note that the Do Not Call Registry only can only prevent legal entities from contacting consumers. A high volume of robocalls are made internationally from unknown or unregistered businesses and/or individuals, and therefore the Do Not Call Registry cannot entirely protect you from robocalls reaching your phone lines.
Robocallers are allowed to call a wrong number registered on the Do Not Call list only once before updating their database. This commonly occurs when consumers get a new phone number, as the previous consumer may have provided consent to be called. Telemarketers have solutions accessible to them that allow them to understand if a number’s owner has “changed”, so a second call is nearly never accidental.
When receiving an unwanted or illegal robocall, the FTC recommends communicating that you do not consent to the call. You should then make a record of the number and the date of which you requested not to be called, and file a formal complaint on the FTC website. Filing a complaint won’t block or stop a robocaller from trying you again, but it will help the FCC flag frequent offenders and inform the public of potential fraud.
Taking Control: The Law is Limited, but You Are Not
Even if you’ve already taken the FCC’s recommended steps, you’re likely still receiving unwanted robocalls. Understanding the rules and regulations designed to protect consumers can help to identify the point of which you will need to take matters into your own hands.
The true solution to the robocall problem is to stop them from ever ringing your phone. Because the Commission’s rules & regulations don’t directly support blocking these calls, it is in your best interest to invest in third-party solutions such as robocall blocking apps for cellular phones or spam identification hardware for landline phones. Solutions such as mobile apps are recommended by the FTC & FCC to help to save time and protect phone privacy by preventing robocalls from ever ringing your phone.
RoboKiller, winner of the FTC’s Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back robocall blocking competition, provides spam protection against unwanted callers and in real-time caller identification for mobile phones. RoboKiller offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date protection from both legal & illegal robocalls, and saves users an average of 17 minutes per week. Get started protecting phone privacy today!
Source: Federal Communications Commission, Stop Unwanted Calls, Texts and Faxes