Advocacy Issues

What Are Robocalls?

Robocalls are phone calls that use a computerized autodialer to deliver a prerecorded message, as if from a robot. Using autodialers, anyone anywhere in the world can cheaply call thousands of households a day and often do so anonymously with little fear of being caught or stopped. Some robocalls may be permitted, such as medical appointment confirmation and school closing calls. Political and charitable calls are among others that also may be allowed, along with companies you have done business with under certain circumstances. However, many robocalls illegally disguise, or “spoof,” their Caller ID information or violate other rules.

What should consumers do if they get an illegal robocall?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that if you receive a robocall, simply hang up.

  • Never respond to a robocall
    The FTC warns consumers not to press any number to speak to a live operator or to unsubscribe from the list. It tells the robocaller that it’s reached a live number.
  • Don’t give out personal information
    If you receive an unsolicited call from any company, including one you do business with, tell them that you will not give them information until you verify the call is legitimate and then call the phone number you know or that you get from the company’s website.
  • Ask your phone company to block the number
    Your carrier may be able to block certain numbers, although robocallers frequently change and disguise their numbers.
  • Use technology to block calls
    Various companies offer products or services that help you control what calls ring on your phones. They range from mobile apps for wireless phones to devices you can plug into your home phone jacks in order to block robocalls to your wireless phone.
  • Report unwanted calls.
    The FTC encourages consumers to report unwanted calls to www.donotcall.gov or (888) 382-1222. Complaints may also be filed with the FCC online or (888) CALL-FCC (888-225-5322).

If you have made a payment or given information to a robocaller and suspect it may have been a scam, this Federal Trade Commission video explains how to file a complaint.