Robocalls compromise privacy and public safety, undermine the federal Lifeline telecommunications program by using up low-income consumers' limited minutes, and subject vulnerable consumers to telemarketing scams. Learn What to do when you receive robocalls
What is a Robocall?A robocall is an automated phone call made using an autodialer, or containing a pre-recorded message. Just because you hear a live voice on the other end, it does not mean you have not received a robocall.
OK, what is an Autodialer?An autodialer is any equipment or computer software that dials phone numbers without human intervention. Pay attention when you pick up the phone. If you are greeted by a pre-recorded message, a robotic voice on the line, a lack of response when you say hello, a click and pause, or there are repeated calls in a single day, repeated calls from different numbers, or you are receiving calls from a debt collector, these are all telltale signs that an autodialer is being utilized. Further, calls made using autodialers frequently result in hang-ups or lengthy periods of "dead air" before a live person comes on the line.
Why does this matter?Robocalls compromise privacy and public safety, undermine the federal Lifeline telecommunications program by using up low-income consumers' limited minutes, and subject vulnerable consumers to telemarketing scams. When it enacted the TCPA, Congress made findings that automated calls and prerecorded messages are a "nuisance," an "invasion of privacy," and "when an emergency or medical assistance telephone line is seized, a risk to public safety." Unwanted calls to cell phones are particularly abusive because the subscriber may have to pay for receiving each call, or the call may count against the number of minutes authorized each month under the subscriber's plan.
That's terrible! Why does the Government allow this to happen?The Government does not allow robocalls to your cell phone, unless you expressly consent to receive and consent to continue receiving them. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227 (TCPA) and its implementing FCC rules, 47 C.F.R. 64.1200, focus on abusive methods of contacting consumers. The restrictions that are most important to consumers are:
A prohibition against making autodialed or prerecorded calls to cell phones and other sensitive numbers without the prior express consent of the called party, applicable both to voice calls and text messages;
A prohibition against certain prerecorded calls (primarily telemarketing calls) to residential lines without prior express written consent;
A requirement that telemarketers maintain company-specific do-not-call lists, and refrain from calling consumers who ask that that particular caller stop calling;
A prohibition against telemarketing calls to consumers who place their names on the nationwide do-not-call list;
Disclosure requirements regarding the purpose of telemarketing calls;
Restrictions on abandoned calls and calling times;
A prohibition against caller ID blocking; and
A prohibition against faxing unsolicited advertisements.
The TCPA is a strict liability statute. If you receive these robocalls or robotexts from companies without your consent--and they are utilizing covered technology, then you may be entitled to statutory damages for each call or text. The statutory damages for each call or text is $500. You can receive the statutory damages for each call or text.
Great! What should I do if I receive Robocalls?1. Answer the phone and tell the caller to stop calling. Any express consent to receive phone calls can be revoked.
2. Ask to be placed on the do-not-call list.
3. Keep track of all calls that you receive, including
a. The number that called;
b. The company that called;
c. When the call was received;
d. What was said;
e. That you asked that they stop calling;
f. That you asked to be placed on the do-not-call list; and
g. How long the call lasted.
4. Request your call logs from your cell company.
5. Add your phone number to the more than 217 million numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.
6. Report the call to the Federal Trade Commission at complaints.donotcall.gov or 1-888-382-1222.
7. Contact a consumer attorney