You see an unrecognizable phone number pop up on your cellphone screen, you answer the call and say hello. There's momentary silence before an upbeat voice comes on the line telling you how you've won a contest that you never even entered. You tell them to lose your number, but the robot on the other end of the line doesn't understand. They call back days later. More Minnesotans have been getting robocalls in recent months.
According to a California-based app company YouMail, in 2018, Minnesota residents received double the robocalls that they'd received in previous years. This equates to somewhere around eight calls per month.
Many of the companies deploying these robots are offering loans, free vacations and a number of other items. If you receive a call from someone that you didn't solicit a call from, then it may be deemed as illegal for them to call you under the existing Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a federal law prohibiting such activity.
In recent years, both state and federal agencies have attempted to crack down on such calls, but they've failed to keep up with nuances in the ways companies make robocalls.
Just last year, 45 million Minnesota residents received robocalls from a Minneapolis' "612" area code. Companies who use technology to make contact are difficult to catch since they've found ways to make their calls look like they're coming from a friend or family member within the same city. Forecasters expect half of all Minnesotan's calls to be robocalls in 2019.
When asked to comment on the trend, the Minnesota state attorney general noted that many of these calls aren't coming from anyone from within the state, but instead, criminal elements abroad. She notes that caller ID no longer helps Vadnais Heights consumers identify these types of calls and that stopping them is going to require a significant investment in technology, something government agencies haven't committed to yet.
Many consumer advocates suggest that you should simply hang up when you receive a robocall; however, this may not help if you already provided them with your Social Security or credit card number along the way. You should contact an attorney and give them information about the caller and the incident so that they can help determine if your privacy was invaded and how to protect it in the future.