Does the Law Protect Me from Robocalls?

cell phone ringing

cell phone ringingWe’ve all been there. Should I answer? Is it family? Or is it a telemarketer? 

Today’s telemarketing calls are usually not live people dialing. They are robots. Robocalls are rampant these days, and they are targeting your cell phone.

This post will explain how you can get rid of them, and how to make sure you don’t get in legal trouble while interacting with them!

Does the Law Protect me from Robocalls?

In theory, yes. But in practical reality, no.

There is a do not call list – and your number should be on it (see below for details and a link to it). If your number is there, it is illegal for a telemarketer to call you on that number.

There are exceptions for political calls, non-profit organizations, religious organizations, and companies with whom you have an “established business relationship.”

Being on the Do Not Call List will cut out the calls from legitimate businesses, but not the scammers. And most robocalls are coming from scammers.

The companies making robocalls don’t care about the law so it is next to worthless. They are usually calling you from overseas, or from some warehouse somewhere. If the cops are on to them, they will just fold up today and set up shop somewhere else tomorrow.

And even if the police did try to arrest them, it would likely result in little. They aren’t going to jail. They may get fined. They likely won’t care and not much will happen.

How to End Them 1 – Don’t Interact with Them

There is only one reason people use robocalls – they must work!

Somewhere someone is actually buying something from them, or giving them their information, or even just accepting whatever free trial they are offering. Don’t do this! If nobody ever bought anything from a robocall, they would end for all of us.

Unfortunately, the technology is so cheap now all it takes is one person in 10,000 to ruin it for all of us. That’s right – only one person in 10,000 calls is what it takes to be profitable.

Don’t press a button or say anything (not even something smart alecky, which I have done). Anything you do verifies your number is real and they will hit you again.

If you even try to interact with them you could fall victim to a scam – like this one that tried to scam people into paying for things by conning you into saying the word “yes.”

The best thing to do is not answer at all. I take the position that if an unfamiliar number calls me and it is a real person, they will leave a voice mail. No voice mail = it was a robocall.

How to End Them 2 – Google Your Phone Number & Keep it Private

Is your phone number out there on the internet? Find out. If so, your number will be picked up by robots scouring the web and you will get more robocalls.

How did your number get out there? You gave it to someone. Whenever you give your cell phone number to a company your number goes in their database. They may sell your information. Even if not, they may get hacked. If so, the bad guys have your number.

So, try to avoid giving your cell phone to any company for any reason if you can help it. This may be hard, I know. But if you cannot avoid it then your number is going to be out there and you will get robocalls.

How to End Them 3 – Add Your Number to the Do Not Call Registry

The Federal Trade Commission has a do not call list and your number should be on it. Click that link to access it. It is easy to sign up by clicking that link.

You can also call 1-888-382-1222 (1-866-290-4236 for TTY users) to register your phone number. Please note that you must call the above number from the phone number you want to be placed on the registry.

This will keep legitimate companies from calling you, but it won’t stop the scam artists or unscrupulous companies who don’t follow the law anyway. It is, however, a first step everyone should take.

How to End Them 4 – File a Complaint

The Do Not Call website isn’t only for registering your number. You can also file a complaint for unwanted phone calls at this link, which is on the same website.

The process is super easy. I have done it several times. You input the phone number and time of the call (which is right on your phone history) and as much information as you know about the caller.

I personally always take the 2 minutes to file a complaint. Last summer I got a bunch of calls from Hilton Hotels and I filed about 5 complaints and they stopped. So, somebody must have done something with it.

Just remember “donotcall.gov” and take 2 minutes to file the complaint.

How to End Them 5 – Buy Software

If you are really serious you can get aps that block spam calls. Most require some setup to use, and they do cost $15-$20 per year. That is not bad at all for the benefit.

I haven’t done the research on these so I cannot recommend one, but I can tell you that other sites like aps like nomorobo, truecaller, privacystar, mr number, hiya, and youmail. Let that be your research starting point.

Conclusion

If you take these steps you may not end annoying robocalls, but you will dramatically reduce them. And that is worth the effort!

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