Are Robocalls Illegal?

Author: PeopleFinders on September 6th, 2019
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It seems like robocalls are one of the biggest technological annoyances of the 21st century. People are getting more robocalls than ever, sometimes several each day. To use the old vernacular, your phone may be ringing off the hook!

There are so many unwanted robocalls floating around. You may wonder why. Are these companies even allowed to call you like this? Can you report them for doing so? Here’s the rundown on who is allowed to robocall you and who isn’t.

Allowed: Companies That You’ve Given Consent To

Although it sounds like it covers a wide swath, this requirement is actually much stricter than you might think. In many circumstances, you’re required to accept certain types of communication with companies to receive a product or service. Or you may agree to a blanket use of general communication, in case you need information about something.

Per the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), for a company to use robocalls legally, you have to explicitly agree to that format. And it can’t be a requirement for any service. The company must also allow you to change your consent at any time.

That means that robocalls from law-abiding companies are relatively infrequent.

Allowed: Politicians/Political Parties and Charities

These kinds of robocalls are allowable even if you haven’t interacted with the people calling beforehand. Political calls can be prerecorded, as can charitable calls. However, if a charity outsources its robocalls to a third party, calls can only be sent to people who’ve previously interacted with the charity.

There are a few examples of legal robocalls in this category. If a politician is running in your area, you may receive a legal prerecorded message about it, which may also include some information about the politician. If you’re registered with a specific political party, that party may robocall you to remind you to vote, let you know about political issues, or otherwise keep you informed. Lastly, if a charity is trying to raise money, you may receive a robocall asking for donations.

Allowed: Informational, Non-Sales Calls

This option is mainly used to inform you about upcoming appointments or let you know about important public information. The important thing to remember here is that the company in question can’t be selling anything to you.

If the robocall comes from a company, it’s usually to remind you about something. Healthcare companies may provide you with reminders for doctor appointments. Pharmacies may let you know your prescriptions have been filled. Or your cable company may remind you about an installation.

The call could also come from public organizations. For example, if there’s an important warning, you may receive a robocall from local government agencies letting you know about it.

Not Allowed: Companies You Haven’t Given Permission To

If you haven’t given written permission to a company, and they still use a robocall to try to sell you something, it’s almost always a scam. Most of the time, the call is actually from a scammer trying to gain your trust, not from a legally run business.

These robocalls are usually easy to spot, and your best bet is to hang up the phone. Although it can be annoying to have your phone ring in the first place, they can’t scam you if you don’t listen to the message. Don’t press any buttons that claim to take you off a call list; just hang up.

How Can I Know Before I Pick Up the Phone?

You may be able to pinpoint an illegal robocall after you pick up the phone. But the better option is to not get into that position in the first place. To try and keep yourself safer from potential scammers, you can use PeopleFinders.

With PeopleFinders, you don’t necessarily have to pick up to find out who’s calling you. As soon as you get the call, you can perform a reverse phone lookup on the number to try and find out who owns it. If you discover it’s a number associated with a scammer or an unscrupulous company, just reject the call; it’s that easy.

Conclusion

Some politicians are working to create legislation that will make it easier to manage robocalls. In the meantime, robocalls are still an annoyance. With PeopleFinders, you can at least try and make sure that that annoyance doesn’t turn into a scam.

Image attribution: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS – stock.adobe.com

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