noun: an automated telephone call that delivers a recorded message, typically on behalf of a political party or telemarketing company.
That is the official definition, but we all know what they are – annoying and persistent calls that either want to sell us something we don’t need or solicit support for someone we don’t care about! These calls aren’t just annoying. They can be downright dangerous.
The same technology that makes it possible for us to call just about anyone anywhere in the world cheaply also makes it possible for others to annoy, harass or scam anyone anywhere in the world – and often to do so anonymously with little fear of being caught or stopped. Using autodialers, they can call thousands of households a day.
The Facts on Robocalls and Robotexts:
- All non-emergency robocalls, both telemarketing and informational, require a consumer’s permission to be made to a wireless phone.
- Urgent calls or texts specifically for health or fraud alerts may be allowed without prior consent.
- Callers are allowed to call a wrong number only once before updating their list.
- A calling company cannot require someone to fill out a form and mail it in as the only way to revoke consent.
- Anyone making a solicitation call to your home must provide his or her name, the name of the person or entity on whose behalf the call is being made and a telephone number or address at which that person or entity can be contacted.
- Solicitation calls to your home are prohibited before 8 am or after 9 pm.
- Telemarketers must comply immediately with any do-not-call request you make during a solicitation call.
Although you won’t be able to stop them completely, if you take a few precautions, you can cut down on the number of unwanted calls.
Here are some more ways you can protect yourself and your family from robocalls:
- Hang up right away
There is nothing to gain from attempting to reason with the people behind the calls. Contact your service provider to see if they have free blocking services but be warned: Your caller ID might show the wrong number because the latest technology can fool your service.
- Don’t press numbers
If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls. That’s because the company calling will now know it has reached a working number, or a “live” person
- Keep your personal information to yourself
Don’t give out personal information. If you get an unsolicited call from a company you do business with and the person on the other end of the line asks for personal information, if the caller claims to be from your bank, for example, tell them you will call them back. If you decide to call back, look up the bank’s number from a trust-worthy source such as a past statement. If the caller is not legitimate, the number they give you to call back will also be phony.
- Tell companies you use to buzz off
It’s not illegal for a business to make marketing calls if you have a relationship with them. So read the terms and conditions for your purchases and services carefully. Buried in those agreements might be a clause agreeing to these annoying calls. Ask them how to stop the calls. If you are their customer, it is in their interest to stop annoying you.
- Be firm and keep records
Tell unwanted callers that you do not consent to being called, make a record of the number and when you made your request not to be called.
Signing up for the Do Not Call registry (www.donotcall.gov) can help, but it is greatly limited in its ability to catch sophisticated robocalls generated from outside of Connecticut or the United States.
And if these things don’t work, make a complaint to the FCC:
By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322); ASL Videophone: 1-844-432-2275
In writing: Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554
To download a printable version of the entire FCC guide on robocalls: https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/article_attachments/202699760/robocalls-06-18-15.pdf
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