What are Robocalls?
Robocalls are prerecorded or autodialed calls made to your landline or cell phone, usually when you have not given permission for the caller to contact you. They are often made by telemarketers, who are callers contacting you to sell a product or service, usually unsolicited. Robocalls can also come from other entities besides telemarketers, such as debt collectors.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) places limits on unsolicited prerecorded telemarketing calls to be made to your landline home telephone. It also prohibits all autodialed or prerecorded calls or text messages to your cell phone. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued rules and regulations implementing the TCPA that went into effect in 1992.
Unless you give callers written consent, the TCPA states that sales callers may not do the following:
- call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- call you if you have chosen to opt out of calls from that specific caller or if you have added your name to the Do Not Call List (see section “What You Can Do” below)
- send unsolicited fax messages to your home or office
- refuse to provide their name, the name of the person or organization on whose behalf they are calling, and contact information for that person or organization
Signs that a Call is an Autodialed Robocall
If you receive more than four calls or voicemails a day from the same caller, that is a sign that the caller is using an autodialer. If you answer a call and hear only a recording or computerized voice, this usually means that it is a robocall. If you answer a call and no one speaks, that can also signal that it is a robocall.
What You Can Do To Stop Robocalls
Revoke Consent if Previously Given
The FCC has determined that you must give written consent for a caller to make robocalls to your cell phone. If you have given such consent in the past but have now changed your mind, you can send another letter revoking consent.
Opt out of Calls from a Specific Caller
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that callers allow you the option to opt out of receiving future automated calls. The opt-out feature should be announced during the automated menu when you answer a call and available for you to choose throughout the call.
Add Yourself to the National Do Not Call Registry
You can also add yourself to the National Do Not Call List by visiting www.donotcall.gov or by calling 888-382-1222 using the phone you wish to register. If you register online, you MUST follow the link in the confirmation email that will be sent to you in order to complete the process.
By adding yourself to this list, you prohibit telemarketers from calling you, even if they are not using audodialers or prerecorded messages. Callers should cease all calls to you within thirty-one days.
If you have added yourself to the list but continue to receive sales calls after thirty-one days have passed, you can submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.
The Do Not Call List specifically prohibits sales calls. You may still receive other types of calls, such as from political or charitable entities. It also does not stop debt collectors from calling you to collect on a debt (see more in the next section).
Debt Collection Calls
Debt Collectors are prohibited from making robocalls to your cell phone to collect on a debt unless you have given them specific permission to do so. They can, however, make non-automated calls to you even if you have added your name to the Do Not Call List. See our debt collection page for more information on debt collection calls.
Contact an Attorney
If you have received unsolicited faxes, telemarketing calls, or prerecorded or autodialed calls, you may be able to bring a suit against the caller if the caller is found to be in violation of the TCPA. To aid your case, try to collect the following information:
- records of phone calls and voicemails from callers
- a written record of the date and times of the calls, as well as the caller’s identity and a summary of any conversation you had
- a copy of any letters you may have sent to callers revoking consent for them to make automated calls
You can use our Find An Attorney directory to find a NACA attorney in your area who can help.
NACA does not provide legal services or advice. The information on www.consumeradvocates.org is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. The information contained on www.consumeradvocates.org may or may not reflect the most current legal developments.
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