USTelecom member companies are committed to working with consumers to stop the proliferation of robocalls made to consumers in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Our industry continues to work collectively with private and government stakeholders to combat illegal robocalls, in particular the illegal calls that use fake or “spoofed” phone numbers.
- Infographic: Protecting Consumers from Robocalls
- Infographic: Protecting Yourself from Robocalls
- 2018 Robocall Blocking Tools
What is a Robocall?
A robocall is an automatic, computer-generated phone call made to your phone number (mobile or landline) from a solicitor. Illegal robocalls range from dangerous phishing scams, to unsolicited (and annoying) sales calls. But keep in mind that some robocalls are legal, and can include important doctor appointment reminders, surveys, school closing announcements and political campaign calls.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) placed restrictions on automatic dialers, fax machines, and unsolicited automated calls to protect the privacy and public safety interests of telephone subscribers.
Today, illegal robocalls can be quickly set up and are increasingly difficult to police due to new, easily acquired technologies. With the costs of long-distance service dramatically reduced, and mass-calling technology making thousands (even millions) of calls with global range (many originate from overseas), illegal scammers are working hard to avoid detection. Spoofing technologies allow scammers to disguise the origin of a phone call, making it can easily appear as though a legitimate caller is dialing your number like a neighbor or even the IRS. It is hard to detect these disguised calls since many call-blocking technologies heavily rely upon the use of caller-ID information as the primary source of categorizing incoming calls.
Solving the Issue
USTelecom members offer a number of call-blocking solutions for their customers, and are deploying the advanced networks that make many third-party solutions possible. Technological tools that force anonymous or out-of-area callers to identify themselves before a call is completed are one example of ways to combat the problem. Work is ongoing in industry forums to develop even better solutions to stay ahead of the many sophisticated ways criminals manipulate calling services to harass the public.
Strong enforcement against illegal robocallers is critical, and we will continue to work closely with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and federal and state prosecutors to identify and shut down these illegal calling operations.
How Should I Handle Robocalls/Phone Scams?
Robocalls can be quite bothersome, invasive and deceitful. To help with this, we have provided a list of Do’s and Don’ts for dealing with robocalls, along with a sampling of tools you can use to block such calls. Keep in mind, the type of voice service you subscribe to, such as a wireless provider or through your local cable company, will dictate the types of robocall blocking tools available to you. Caregivers and elders should be especially alert to robocalls offering “free” services or cash prizes since these are almost always pushed by criminals who are relentless, abusive and dangers.
- DO contact your voice provider to inquire about available tools
- DO register with the FTC’s Do-Not-Call list and file complaints
- DO educate yourself about available tools
- DO check out the FCC’s website that lists robocall blocking tools (click the “Call Blocking Resources” tab)
- DO educate yourself about common scams, like the ‘Grandparent Scam’, ‘Jamaican Lottery Scam’ and the ‘IRS Collection Scam’
- DON’T answer calls with an unfamiliar caller ID
- DON’T press 1 or 2 to get removed from their list (it won’t work)
- DON’T engage with the robocaller making the call
- DON’T give personal information
- DON’T ever give the robocaller your financial information
- DON’T ever pay for anything over the phone with things like gift cards or iTunes cards
Tools to Stop Robocalls:
- USTelecom's Sampling of Tools to Block Robocalls
- The National Do Not Call Registry: https://www.donotcall.gov/
- The Federal Trade Commission: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0259-robocalls
- Don’t Become a Victim: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0076-phone-scams
- CTIA – the Wireless Association: http://www.ctia.org/your-wireless-life/consumer-tips/blocking-robocalls
- Robocall Strike Force Report
- Fighting Back on Robocalls
- USTelecom Comments to FCC on robocalls
- USTelecom Reply Comments to FCC on robocalls
- Consumer Reports Survey of Robocall Technologies
- Verizon Policy Blog: Options for Blocking Robocalls
- FCC Tips – How to File Caller ID Complaints
- CSPAN video of testimony