A robocall is a phone call that uses a computerized auto-dialer to send pre-recorded messages to recipients. While sometimes annoying, there is nothing inherently illegal about robocalling alone. There are many legitimate uses of robocalling. You may get a robocall to find out that your prescription is ready at the pharmacy, or that your child’s school is closed due to a snow emergency.
However, there are certain instances where robocalls become illegal. In today’s post, we examine the three most common illicit practices associated with robocalling – and how you can protect yourself against it.
Illicit practice #1: getting sensitive data
Robocalling is illegal when used for the purpose of obtaining your money. It does not have to be a scam for it to be illegal.
Common tactics that robocalls employ are:
- Obtaining your personal information in order to gain access to your financial accounts and steal from you
- Verifying that your number is real and active, then selling it to fraudulent businesses
Illicit practice #2: spoofing
Spoofing refers to the practice of making it look like a call is coming from a local number or an official number – such as a utility company or the IRS. While it is legal for individuals to use spoofing for personal use, it is illegal for businesses to do. Spoofing is becoming an increasingly popular practice among robocallers.
Illicit practice #3: robocall harassment
Robocalling is also illegal when it reaches the level of harassment. This can take the form of:
- Peppering you with calls
- Calling you in the middle of the night
- Robocalling with offensive or propagandic messaging
What you can do
As soon as you recognize that you’ve answered a robocall, the Federal Communications Commission recommends hanging up right away. However, as robocalls are becoming more sophisticated, it’s sometimes difficult to recognize them as such immediately.
If you do answer, be sure to follow these best practices:
- Don’t answer any questions. Saying anything makes you more likely to get tricked into disclosing sensitive information that can put you at risk.
- Don’t say “yes.” The robocall can record you saying this as use it for fraudulent purposes.
- Don’t hit any numbers on your phone keypad. This will only verify to the robocaller that your phone number is active, and they will spam you with even more calls.
- Never, ever share your Social Security, bank or credit card details.
- Report unwanted calls to the Federal Trade Commission.
What a lawyer can help you do
You have legal protections against robocall scamming and harassment. A consumer protection attorney can help you to stop unsolicited robocalls that are in violation of any laws, including:
- Telephone Consumer Protection Act
- Truth in Caller ID Act
- Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act
If you’re the victim of a robocall scam, your attorney can also help you to sue the scam callers – to help you recoup your losses.