A robocall happens when you answer your phone and hear a prerecorded message as opposed to a live person on the line. Robocalls are often used by telemarketers and scammers and if you have not given your permission to receive these calls, the practice is illegal. Exceptions are made for candidates running for public office or charities asking for donations.
According to new research, robocalls have skyrocketed in recent years and these uninvited calls are expected to increase to almost 50% of mobile traffic by 2019. As an example of the problem, last week the Federal Trade Commission proposed a $37.5 million fine against an Arizona company after it made more than 2.3 million unsolicited telemarketing calls to consumers over a 14-month period while attempting to sell home improvement or remodeling services. According to the FTC, the company had illegally “spoofed” or falsified information transmitted to caller IDs to hide or disguise where the calls originated from. Calls allegedly appeared to come from consumers who were unconnected with the operation or from unassigned phone numbers or pre-paid “burner” (temporary use) phones.
The FTC has the following tips for consumers who want to stop robocalls.
- Hang up the phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator or any other key to take your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
- Consider asking your phone company whether they charge for blocking phone numbers. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.
- Report your experience to the FTC online or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
If you want to stop sales calls all together, you can also join the National Do Not Call Registry. It is free to register your phone. For more information, visit donotcall.gov.
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National Do Not Call Registry
The National Do Not Call Registry helps U.S. consumers to limit the telemarketing calls they receive. The primary objective of the NDNCR is to curb unsolicited commercial communication. NDNCR prohibits any message, through telecommunications service, which is transmitted for the purpose of informing about, or soliciting or promoting any commercial transaction in relation to goods, investments or services which a subscriber opts not to receive.
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