What are Robocalls?
A robocall is a phone call that uses a computerized autodialer to deliver a pre-recorded message, as if from a robot. Robocalls are often associated with political and telemarketing phone campaigns, but can also be used for public-service or emergency announcements.
Americans were hit with 58.5 billion robocalls last year, an increase of 22% from the 47.8 billion received in 2018, according to YouMail, a company that provides a service to block such messages.
On December 31, 2019 President Trump signed into law The Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. The Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act requires phone companies to block robocalls without charging customers anything extra and mandates most carriers in the U.S. to ensure that calls are coming from real numbers. It also grants government regulators increased authority to find and punish scammers, which could include fines of up to $10,000 per call. Please click here to read the whole act https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/151/text
As of December 2019, 42.76% of all robocalls were scams, according to YouMail’s research. Scammers who are often located outside the United States are known to target Social Security numbers, credit card information and more.
Another scam involves the IRS calling about some form of tax issue. These alleged scams usually involve targeting the elderly due to the best chances of scaring the elderly into making a payment. The IRS will never call you, unless you request a call from the IRS. If you receive a suspicious call from the IRS, please report the call to the Attorney General of your state. The Attorney General will keep track of these alleged scams and put out bulletins to warn consumers. You can also file a complaint with FTC AND FCC.
Under FTC rules, some robocalls don’t require your permission:
- Messages that are purely informational. Robocalls about your flight being cancelled, reminding you about an appointment, or letting you know about a delayed school opening fall into this category, as long as the caller doesn’t also try to sell you something.
- Debt collection calls. A business contacting you to collect a debt can use robocalls to reach you. But robocalls that try to sell you services to reduce your debt are illegal and are almost certainly scams.
- Political calls.
- Calls from some health care providers. This includes a robocall from a pharmacy reminding you to refill a prescription.
- Messages from charities. Charities can make these calls themselves. But if a charity hires someone to make robocalls on its behalf, the robocalls can only go to members of the charity or prior donors. They also must include an automated option to let you stop future calls.
How can you stop robocalls?
- Manually block phone number
- Carrier call blocking apps
- Third party call blocking apps
- Do Not Call Registry
- File complaints with the FTC or the FCC
- Hire an attorney who specializes in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)