Illegal robocalls and unwanted telemarketing calls can be annoying. If you want these calls to stop, you can take steps that could lead to consequences for offenders, including possible fines.
You can register your phone number on the national Do Not Call Registry operated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its website. Once you’re registered, companies should be aware of your request within 31 days. That should stop all telemarketing and sales calls from reputable businesses. But as we know, unreputable businesses don’t care about breaking the law by disregarding the Do Not Call list. If you receive telemarketing calls after that 31-day mark, you should report the unwanted calls to the FTC. Remember that political calls and calls asking for donations are exempt from the regulations of the Do Not Call Registry.
Fraudulent calls can be reported whether you are registered or not because fraud is illegal.
If your number is on the Do Not Call Registry, the first place you should go to report a violation is the FTC complaint page. Complaints can also be sent to the state government where you live. Fraudulent calls should be reported to the attorney general or a government agency. In Massacusetts, you can file a comlaint the the office of Attorney General, at https://www.mass.gov/how-to/file-a-consumer-complaint.
You can find more information on where to complain in all 50 states, here.
Here are tips for handling robocalls:
- Register all of your phone numbers with the federal Do Not Call List by calling 1-888-382-1222. It won't stop most of the calls. Most con-artists don't care whether they break the rules, but your ability to lodge a complaint about the call with the state AG or feds can start with showing the caller violated the DNC List.
- Never, ever confirm or provide personal information to any caller you weren't expecting. Not even your name. Nothing. If you think the call could be legitimate, call the company back at a number you look up independently.
- Don't be fooled by what the Caller ID says. Bad guys can spoof their numbers to look like it's a local call or coming from a known business.
- If you do pick up the phone and realize it's an illegal robocall, just hang up. Don't push any buttons to be taken off their call list. Pressing buttons just confirms they've reached a live person.
- Don't be tricked if a caller/ robocaller knows your name, address, family members' names or even your Social Security number. All of this and more was exposed for half of the adult population in the Equifax data breach of 2017.
- On your outbound voicemail message, don't provide your full name. No sense in giving a scammer more information than they may have had.
- Report illegal robocalls or DNC List violations: Call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or file a complaint online at ftc.gov/complaint. Violations of the DNC List can be made to https://www.donotcall.gov/ You should note the number on your Caller ID and any number left on the message that you’re supposed to call back. You should also report illegal calls to your state attorney general. See the contact information for the attorneys general in every state here.