It’s a Robocall.
If you pick up the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a real person, it’s a robocall.
It’s also probably illegal and possibly a scam.
Are they even legal?
Robocalls are only allowed if they’re not trying to sell you anything.
These could be recorded information messages from services you use such as your bank or pharmacy. Charities and political candidates are also allowed to use recorded messages if they’re calling you trying to get your support.
Some legitimate and legal types of robocalls:
- Missing-child alerts
- Severe weather alerts
- School notifications, such as a ‘a snow days’
- Political candidate information
- General public service announcements
If a robocall is trying to sell you anything and the company doesn’t have your written permission to call you, it’s illegal.
I’m on the Do Not Call Registry… Why do I still get robocalls?
It’s illegal for a sales company to call you if you are on the Do Not Call Registry. However, the companies that use robocalls are usually trying to scam you, so they have no regard for the law. They use technology to send their automated messages to thousands of phones per minute. They don’t bother to check whether or not your number is on the registry.
The number looks familiar. Have I done business with them before?
Robocallers often use fake Caller ID information. This is known as ‘ID Spoofing,’ and it’s very easy to do. They use numbers that look similar to the number of a company you’ve done business with, or even your bank. Often the number they are using will belong to a real person who has no idea their number is being used for a scam.
If you think they may be legitimate, write the company name and details down (don’t push any buttons!); then look up the number for that company in a phone book or online, and call them yourself. If it’s a real call, you should be able to quickly find out why they were calling you.
They have my area code. Can I trust them if they’re local?
Area codes aren’t actually linked to physical places anymore. Technology now allows people to choose their own three-digit prefixes, no matter where they live. Unfortunately, this also includes companies, making it easier than ever for fraudulent businesses to scam you.
Scammers build trust by making you think their call is coming from your local area. In fact, they might not even be based in the U.S; they’ve just bought a number that starts with the code for your area.
What should I do if I get a robocall?
Don’t respond – Then report!
Don’t follow any of the prompts such as pressing 1 to speak to a live operator or pressing another number to be removed from the list. This lets them know they’ve called a live number, so you’ll probably receive more robocalls in the future. Instead, just hang up the phone.
Robocalls should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-888-382-1222 or following their online complaints procedure. The FTC is working to stop telephone scams and has stopped billions of robocalls in the last few years.
Push no buttons!
The robocall message says I can press 1 to be added to the Do Not Call Registry. Should I?
No! No! No!
Just keep this one rule in mind: Never push any buttons for any reason on a robocall.
Can I block robocalls?
There are various solutions available for blocking robocalls. First, you should contact your phone company to see if they charge for blocking numbers. As scammers change their numbers regularly, it’s not worth paying to have them blocked.
You can purchase a Robocall-Blocking Device online for between $50 and $100. These plug into your phone line and let you set up lists of ‘safe’ numbers and those you want to block.
There are also a number of other solutions. Examples:
- Landlines: Primus Telemarketing Guard is a free solution which weeds out calls from known spammers, and makes callers prove they are human before being connected. It is currently available in Canada, but not the U.S.
- Internet-Based Phones: The Nomorobo service is free and blocks robocalls to internet-based phones. The phone companies do not offer it directly to customers.
- Smartphone Apps: There are also several call-blocking apps available online. Just search through your available applications for download and try a few out. Make sure you read though the reviews and do an internet search on a particular app before downloading it.
Also, there is a movement to encourage phone companies to provide more free servies to clock robocalls.You can sign a petition online to encourage phone companies to offer this technology free to all U.S. customers.
*Results may vary – we do not endorse or claim responsibility for the mentioned services and products use.
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This information is provided for general consumer educational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice.