Know your rights: robocalls
July 10, 2017
Today, telemarketers send huge quantities of robocalls, usually by using internet-based phone services. While some robocalls are from legitimate companies, others are scams. To help spot an illegal robocall, learn about your rights.
A federal law called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) addresses unwanted telephone solicitations, including restrictions on the delivery of robocalls. Amendments to the TCPA, which became effective November 2015, tightened restrictions on robocalls by requiring callers to obtain certain permissions prior to calling.
Here’s what to know about the TCPA:
- Calls and text messages have the same protections.
- All non-emergency robocalls, both telemarketing and informational, require a consumer’s permission to be made to a wireless phone. These calls can include political, polling, and other non-telemarketing robocalls.
- Telemarketing (solicitation-to-purchase) robocalls to wireless and landline home phones require prior written consent from the recipient.
- Consumers can revoke their permission to be called or texted in any reasonable way. For example, a caller cannot require you to fill out a form and mail it in as the only way to revoke consent.
- Being an existing customer of a business does not constitute permission to be robocalled or texted.
- Callers are allowed to call a wrong number only once before updating their calling list. This most commonly comes up when consumers consent to be called or texted but then change phone numbers, leaving their prior number to be reassigned to someone else. Telemarketers and other callers have resources available to them to help them know ahead of time if a number’s “owner” has changed.
To help reduce unwanted calls:
- Don’t respond to suspicious calls in any way. Responding to a call could cause you to receive even more calls.
- Check out call-blocking services. Some mobile apps and cloud-based services combine data from reports of robocalls to create a “blacklist” of numbers that can be blocked from calling you.
- Visit www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222 to register your landline or cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. If your number is on the registry and a company is still calling, there is a good chance it is a scam.