MILWAUKEE, WI– Robocalls are on the rise in the region, and according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), around 2.4 billion robocalls are made every month, and that number has steadily climbed in recent years.
The rise is due to the internet-powered phone systems most people have, which makes it not only easy, but also cheap for scammers to make illegal calls, where fake caller ID information is displayed.
A robocall is a recorded message which responds to you after you answer a call. These calls can vary from bogus companies that claim to lower utility bills or credit card rates, offer government grants, vacation packages, or calls from individuals claiming they are an IRS agent.
The types of robocall allowed in the United States include the following:
- Recorded messages regarding candidates running for office or charities asking for donations
- Reminder messages for doctor, dentist, hair appts.
- Prerecorded messages from banks, telephone providers and charities, which are only if the organizations make the call themselves.
So how can you tell if a robocall is illegal? In the U.S., the biggest red flag would be the recording trying to sell you something. If the recording is a sales pitch and you haven’t given any permission to receive the calls from that company, then it would be considered illegal.
According to the BBB, a telemarketer must have either a written or electronic consent from you to receive a call or message. Even if you buy a product or contacting a business with a question, the telemarketers don’t have permission to contact you.
So what can you do to avoid robocall scams? Here are a few tips from the BBB
- Immediately hang up. Don’t speak to the caller and don’t attempt to remove your name from the list, as that could lead to even more calls. Warn your employees if they notice a call that says it’s the IRS or Social Security Administration (SSA) to not trust it.
- Block the number. By using call-blocking techniques, you can reduced the number of unwanted phone calls you receive. Click here for more tips from the FTC on this topic.
- Report it right away. After you hang up, report the call to the FTC by clicking here. The more information the FTC has about the call, the better they can work with law enforcement to crack down on these calls.
The laws in Canada are slightly different however. Calls from charities and political candidates are allowed, but calls from telemarketers are allowed only if you have some existing relationship, such as making a purchase or inquiring about a product from that company. Click here to read Canada’s regulations.
For Canada, you can click the National Do Not Call list to file a complaint.