How to Stop Scam Robocalls
Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the FCC plays a crucial role in helping consumers stop unwanted calls, text messages and faxes.
Robocalls are unsolicited prerecorded telemarketing calls to landline home telephones, and all autodialed or prerecorded calls or text messages to wireless numbers, emergency numbers, and patient rooms at health care facilities. FCC rules limit many types of robocalls, though some calls are permissible if prior consent is given. Rules differ between landline and wireless phones.
To arm consumers with information they can use to block or filter unwanted calls, the Commission – with input from an industry-led Robocall Strike Force – has created a web page with resources to help stop annoying robocalls.
Know your rights: the rules on robocalls and robotexts
- Telemarketing calls can be stopped by consumers through the Do Not Call registry which protects both landline and wireless phones.
- All non-emergency robocalls, both telemarketing and informational, require a consumer’s permission to be made to a wireless phone. These calls can include political, polling, and other non-telemarketing robocalls.
- Robocalls either use a technology with the capacity to autodial or utilize a pre-recorded or artificial voice.
- Calls and text messages have the same protection under FCC rules.
- Phone companies face no legal barriers to offering consumers the use of technologies that block robocalls to any phone. The FCC encouraged the companies to offer this resource.
- Consumers can take back their permission to be called or texted in any reasonable way. A calling company cannot require someone to fill out a form and mail it in as the only way to revoke consent.
- An existing commercial relationship does not constitute permission to be robocalled or texted.
- Consent to be called or texted cannot be a condition of a sale or other commercial transaction.
- Callers are allowed to call a wrong number only once before updating their list. This most commonly comes up when one person consented to be called or texted but then they gave up that number and it was reassigned to someone else. Callers have resources available to them to help them know ahead of time if a number’s “owner” has changed.
- Urgent calls or texts specifically for health or fraud alerts may be allowed without prior consent. They must be free, and consumers can say “stop” at any time.
Take action: what you can do
- Ask your phone company to offer robocall-blocking technology for which the FCC has now given the legal approval.
- Register your number on the Do Not Call list in order to block telemarketing calls: www.donotcall.gov
- If you use robocall-blocking technology already, it often helps to let that company know which numbers are producing unwanted calls so they can help block those calls for you and others.
- Tell unwanted callers that you do not consent to the call, make a record of the number and when you made your request not to be called, and let us know.
- Wireless and landline home phones are protected against telemarketing robocalls made without prior written consent from the recipient.
What are the rules for robocalls?
FCC rules require a business to obtain your written consent – on paper or through electronic means, including website forms, a telephone keypress – or a recording of your oral consent before it may make a prerecorded telemarketing call to your residential phone number or make an autodialed or prerecorded telemarketing call or text to your wireless number.
What are the consent requirements for telemarketers calling my landline?
Businesses must have your prior express written consent before making telemarketing robocalls. Telemarketers are no longer able to make telemarketing robocalls to your landline home telephone based solely on an “established business relationship” that you may have established when purchasing something from a business or contacting the business to ask questions.
Are robocalls to wireless phones permissible?
Your written or oral consent is required for ALL autodialed or prerecorded calls or texts made to your wireless number. Telemarketers have never been permitted to make robocalls to your wireless phone based solely on an “established business relationship” with you.
Do all prerecorded autodialed calls to my landline violate FCC rules?
Not always. Informational messages such as school closings or flight information are permissible without prior written consent.
What other autodialed calls are permitted under FCC robocall rules?
Market research or polling calls to residential wireline numbers are not restricted by FCC rules, nor are calls on behalf of tax-exempt non-profit groups. The rules do require all prerecorded calls, including market research or polling calls, to identify the caller at the beginning of the message and include a contact phone number. All autodialed or prerecorded non-emergency calls to wireless phones are prohibited without prior expressed consent, regardless of the call’s content.
Can I opt out of autodialed calls?
FCC rules require telemarketers to allow you to opt out of receiving additional telemarketing robocalls immediately during a prerecorded telemarketing call through an automated menu. The opt-out mechanism must be announced at the outset of the message and must be available throughout the duration of the call.
How can schools get more information about compliance?
For schools who have questions about compliance with the Commission’s robocalls rules, please contact Richard.Smith@fcc.gov