Fighting Back Against Unwanted Robocalls

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What Are Robocalls?

There is nothing more annoying than pausing your life to answer a call only to be greeted by a recording known as a robocall. A robocall uses a computerized auto-dialer to send out pre-recorded messages. These messages are often used in politics. Political calls are mostly exempt from Federal Trade Commission regulations with the exception of calls to cell phones without permission. Indiana and North Dakota do not allow political robocalls, and New Hampshire does not allow political robocalls to those who are on the Do Not Call Registry. Robocalls can be used for emergencies, and sometimes as a personalized message as well. They are also used in pesky, misleading telemarketing calls or even scams.

When Are Robocalls Illegal?

Determining the exact legality of these calls varies from state to state. 23 states currently have laws in place in addition to what the F.T.C. has set forward in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. For example, some states require a live person to introduce the call and ask for permission to play a recording or the call must state exactly who paid for the call and the name and other information on the company must be shared. Soliciting recordings are essentially considered unlawful if there is no business already established, or no permission or written consent has been given to the corporation calling.

What is the U.S. Government Doing to Protect Consumers?

The U.S. Government along with the Federal Trade Commission have recently improve the way they manage, prevent and stop its violators. For example, when a telephone number is reported as a violator, the information is immediately given to telecommunication carriers as well as developers of call-blocking devices and programs. The F.T.C. has also recently gone after violators in civil suits where hefty fines have been imposed, as in the case with Dish Network in which the company was forced to pay a total of 280 million for violations, 168 million for the federal government . This was the largest suit for F.T.C. violations.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

Even with laws in place, calls have not ceased. By hanging up immediately and filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Do Not Call Registry, you aid the government in putting a stop to unwanted calls. There are also a variety of mobile apps that can be installed on cellular devices, and some even come with a feature already built into the device. A Cloud based service, which is a service used over the internet for mobile or landline phone service that uses the internet, such as a service provided by a cable company. There are also devices on the market to be used with home phones or you can opt for additional blocking services from your telephone service provider.

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