Robocalls are an epic nuisance, and they’ve become an epidemic. According to the YouMail Robocall Index, Americans received 50.5 billion robocalls in 2021. Robocalls are annoying and disruptive and can be dangerous for motorists. Yet neither the government nor private industry has a foolproof plan to put a stop to them.
What Are Robocalls?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines a robocall as “A phone call that uses a computerized autodialer to deliver a pre-recorded message, as if from a robot.” The calls can be made at any time and to any number because the dialing is computerized. The message may originate overseas, pass through computers to U.S. telephone carriers to your phone. Robocalls include both telephone calls and text messages.
Which Robocalls Are Legal and Which Ones Are Not?
Politicians and charitable organizations can legally use robocalls. Robocalls also can be made to public service announcement, like a weather warning, and some personal messages, like a reminder for a medical appointment, and to do surveys.
These robocalls are prohibited:
Those made without your prior written consent to the business
Calls to a residential line listed on the “Do-Not-Call Registry”
By telemarketers and debt collectors between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Calls that do not provide the name of the caller, identify the business behind the call and provide a contact phone number or address
Calls that do not provide an automatic opt-out mechanism
Those that violate the law, such as making misrepresentations or threats
Are These Laws Against Robocalls Being Enforced?
Federal agencies and some state authorities try to enforce the laws. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which receives 200,000 complaints annually about unwanted calls, enforces the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which Congress passed to protect consumers from robocall abuse. The FTC, which received about 5.3 million telemarketing complaints in 2016, has filed actions against robocallers that violate federal consumer protection laws. But will this be effective?
Bikram Bandy, an FTC attorney, does not think so. He told Fox News that “[The robocall problem] is so big, law enforcement alone cannot solve the problem.”
In 2017, the FTC and the FCC have begun new efforts to halt illegal robocalls in cooperation with telephone service providers.
In addition, private tech companies, such as RoboKiller and Nomorobo, have created apps they claim block robocalls.
Prepare for an ongoing tech battle between good and evil which may spread to social media. Ryan Kalember of Proofpoint, a cybersecurity company, predicted to the New York Times that robocallers will attempt to integrate email, phone calls, and social media to scam consumers.
What Can You Do to Fight Robocallers?
Here are some tips:
List all your phones on the government’s National Do-Not-Call Registry and report any calls you receive after listing.
Be careful when you are signing up for a retailer’s service or website that you do not inadvertently check a box allowing them to send you marketing calls.
Buy a call-blocking app.
Don’t answer a call from an unknown or suspicious number.
If you answer, do not respond to the invitation to opt out. This verifies that you have a working number and makes you a target for other robocallers.
Never, ever, answer “Yes” to even the most innocent-sounding question. This can be used as your voice signature to authorize charges by phone.
File complaints with the FTC or the FCC.
File a lawsuit. You may collect up to $500 per unwanted robocall under the TCPA and other damages. Consult a qualified robocaller attorney.
If robocallers have been hounding you, to speak with a representative directly and immediately call 844-685-9200 for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our attorneys have experience in fighting robocallers and standing up for consumers. If a robocaller has violated the Telephone Consumers Protection Act or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you’re entitled to file suit in federal court and could be awarded up to $500 per call and other damages.
About the Author:
Sergei Lemberg is a lawyer whose practice focuses on consumer law, class actions and personal injury litigation. He has been repeatedly recognized as the “most active consumer attorney” in the country. In 2020, Mr. Lemberg represented Noah Duguid in the United States Supreme Court in the case entitled Duguid v. Facebook. He is the author of Defanging Debt Collectors, a book that teaches consumers how to battle debt collectors and win.
The hours on the list for the law dont cover certain jobs. Im a truck driver and subject to the federal hours of service. My 10 hour mandatory break can start at any time. Im getting harrassed by robocalls during my Mandatory sleep. Federal government needs to look into this because it’s against DOT regulations to interrupt a truck drivers 10 hour break. Probably should be a priority….a tired driver is as bad as a drunk driver.
Today at 1:45pm EST I received and answered a call on my work cell phone from a gentleman who requested to speak with me about a personal business matter. I asked him for his name and he replied (David) from ICS Systems. he also stated that, this was a debt collection call and the call will be recorded yada…yada.yada!!!! I asked where his company was located, he stated Minnesota, he also stated that the origination number and address ( 725) 500-0972 , Las Vagas, NV ) that shows up on my phone is incorrect ( because the company uses a system that routes the call from various and random locations. I asked him if he was given permission by the individual he was seeking to speak with to call this number. He did not respond and proceeded to ask for this individual again. I notified Mr. David that he was calling a number assigned to her by the federal government for work (employee work cellphone) and that the number was registered on the federal do not call list. He then proceeded to let me know that he has made a note of this information and quickly hung up. prior to writing this post, I called to verify that this number was on the Do Not Call Registry and it is. What can I do to ensure this does not happen on my work phone again.
I was being harassed by a robocall system from late August until last week. The calls would occur only on weekdays during work hours. Their opt-out button during the robocall was ineffective and if I clicked through to speak to someone they would immediately hang up if I said anything other than I wished to purchase their product. I received a total of 41 calls. I believe that I found the correct information on the soliciting company and I know a large number of people who were receiving the same robocalls over the past 6 months.
I typically receive a few to several Robcalls each week to my cell phone. However, it appears that caller I.D. is worthless regarding these calls because by performing reverse telephone number lookups on the internet, these Robocaller phone numbers appear to have been spoofed.
Question 1: Can you actually determine the identity of these Robcallers who are spoofing their caller I.D. phone number(s) so that they my be held to account for their TCPA violations?
Question 2: I have also been receiving Robocalls to my cell phone from a supposed Texas peace officers organization seeking charitable donations for widows and orphans of fallen peace officers. Sorry, but I do not recall the name of the organization identified in these calls. No other identifying or contact information, any opt-out process is provided. Notwithstanding the TCPA provisions for charitable organizations, since I am registered with both the federal and Texas do-not-call registries, what is the probability of preventing this organization from making additional calls and/or recovering TCPA damages?
p.s. Thank you for the valuable service you provide to protect consumers from unscrupulous telemarketers, manufacturers, and scam artists!