It is estimated that up to 50% of all phone calls in the US are robocalls.
Lets start first by understanding what a robocall is. A robocall is a phone call that uses a computerized autodialer or software to deliver a prerecorded message. Robocalls are often used for telemarketing but can also used for public service and emergency announcements.
Robocalls are often used for telemarketing but can also used for public service and emergency announcements.
Robocalls are illegal in the United States, 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. The means a robocall trying to sell you something is illegal unless a company has your written permission to call you that way.
Under the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) rules some robocalls are legal, even if you did not provide permission. They include:
1. Informational Messages - Calls that provide information, like appointment reminders or flight delays are legal in the US
2. Debt Collection Calls - Businesses can legally contact you to collect a debt. However companies that use robocalls that are attempting to sell you their service to reduce a debt are illegal.
3. Political Calls - Politicians can use robocalls as a means of marketing.
4. Charities - Charities are able to make robocalls, however if they use a third party to make the robocalls they may only contact members or prior donors. Additionally charities making robocalls must provide an automated option to opt out of future calls.
In 2020 President Trump signed bipartisan legislation that expanded the power of the FCC (Federal Communications Commision) to deter unwanted spam calls. The legislation reinforced the responsibility of the individual phone companies to protect their consumers. That said, just because legislation exists, does not mean that disreputable companies or individuals will stop the practice of unsolicited calls. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (also known as TRACED Act), increased fines on spam robocallers from $1500 per call to $10000 per illegal call. The Act also required the FCC and Telecom Providers to develop a system to inform customers when they receive a "spoofed" call.
A spoofed call makes it appear that it originated from a different number or company than it actually originated from. Hiding a caller's true identity or faking a caller ID number, and placing telemarketing calls is illegal in the US, unless the consumer has given their expressed written permission. Unfortunately, many of the of the robocalls Americans receive originate overseas and it has been a challenge to track and prosecute the perpetrators.
How to Stop Robocalls on Cell Phones