Updated: February, 2021
Google, Apple, T-Mobile, and the U.S. government are each working hard to end robocalls as well as other types of phone-based spam. While we all wait for these calls to end, it helps to know what you can do to end these aggravating and sometimes dangerous phone calls.
What Is a Robocall?
Robocalls compromise public safety and privacy, subject vulnerable consumers to intrusive and harassing debt collection and telemarketing tactics, and undermine the federal Lifeline telecommunications program. They use up low-income individuals' precious limited minutes too.
If you get a phone call and a recorded message is on the other end instead of a live person, you are dealing with a robocall. If you are receiving robocalls attempting to sell you something, chances are the calls are not legal - and are most likely scams.
Unless you give a company your written permission to place a robocall to you to sell you something, it is likely illegal. The company must be clear about their request to call you with robocalls and gain your permission. It cannot make you agree to receive these calls to get a service or product. Even if you do give the company permission, you can always change your mind down the road.
Is There a Difference Between Telemarketers and Robocalls?
Telemarketers make unsolicited phone calls to help them sell their products and services. Robocalls, however, automate calls using autodialers and recorded messages.
Methods on Stopping Robocalls
The FCC is dedicated to doing what they can to protect you from these types of automated calls and unwelcome messages. They are taking various steps to crack down on illegal calls, such as:
- Budgeting millions of dollars to take enforcement actions against robocallers.
- Making it mandatory that phone companies use caller ID to help decrease illegal spoofing.
- Empowering phone companies to block unwanted or illegal calls by default before the calls even reach individuals.
- Making consumer complaint information available to allow for better labeling and call blocking solutions.
- Enabling consumer options or tools for blocking calls from numbers that don't appear on their contact list or another "white list."
What you can do:
The FCC has provided some simple steps you can take to help decrease robocalls:
- Do not answer calls from unknown or blocked numbers.
- Do not assume any incoming call that appears to be from a local number is, even if it looks like it is.
- Hang up on any calls where you hear a recording like, "Hello, can you hear me?"
- If you receive a call from someone that says they are from a certain company, hang up and place a call to that company yourself. You can find the company's official number on their website.
- Do not answer questions that a simple "yes" can answer.
- Hang up on any call that requires you to press a number to connect with a representative. By pressing a number or interacting with voice prompts, you let spammers know your number is genuine. They then can turn around and target your number more often or sell it to another company.
Keep an eye out for common phone scams, such as those scam calls that impersonate the government. If you receive a call from someone asking you to pay with a gift card, wire money, or hand over personal information, it is a scam.
Look into call-blocking services to get fewer illegal robocalls. The call-blocking solution you decide on depends on where you are receiving the robocalls, whether on your traditional landline, mobile phone, or home phone, using the internet (VoIP).