What are Robocalls?
Robocalls are phone calls made by software instead of another human being. While some robocalls are welcomed such as an appointment reminder for an upcoming doctor's visit, other robocalls are unwelcomed and can vary from annoying to fraudulent.
Are Robocalls Illegal?
Yes, robocalls are illegal if you haven't agreed to be called, or don't have an existing business relationship with the caller. The only exceptions are for political or charitable causes, which are authorized by law in some states, even without consent. According to the BBB, "The federal Telemarketing Sales Rule prohibits recorded sales messages unless you have given written permission for the caller to contact you, regardless of whether or not your number is on the Do Not Call registry (www.donotcall.gov)."
Why Are Robocalls So Hard to Stop?
Robocalls are notoriously difficult to stop. Malicious companies, organized crime and individual scammers who use robocalls utilize software to hide their true identity and location. This is why Caller ID services often identify the call origin to your local area or state. To date, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has brought more than a hundred lawsuits against over 600 companies and individuals for illegal robocalls and other Do Not Call violations.
How to Stop Robocalls
Below is a list of ways you can reduce or eliminate robocalls.
- Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry. Your number will be permanently listed, for free.
- When you receive robocalls, immediately hang up the phone. Don't press any numbers, even to "get off the list". According to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), pressing any numbers will likely just lead to more calls.
- Consider blocking the number in your phone settings.
- Download a free or paid app that helps prevent robocalls. For Android devices these apps can be found within Google Play, and for Apple devices these apps can be found within the App Store. The CTIA (Cellular Telephone Industries Association) has also compiled an extensive list on their website, found here.