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November 16, 2012

Just hang up on robocalls

A message from the Third Circuit State Attorney

Live Oak — Live telephone solicitation calls from political groups, charities, and businesses are rapidly being replaced by “robocalls”. Robocalls are recorded messages, usually solicitations, that consumers receive when they answer their phone. Due to advances in technology, businesses are now able to transmit thousands of recorded phone calls every minute at very little cost. But, as the use of this technology increases, so is the number of complaints. Here is what consumers should know about robocalls.

Robocalls are legal, provided that companies check to screen out phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry. Charities and political organizations are exempt under the Do Not Call policy and are allowed to make robocalls. If you would like to cut down on the number of robocalls from political groups, one solution is to contact your local Supervisor of Elections and ask to have your phone number removed from the Voter Registration list.

Businesses cannot solicit individuals on the Do Not Call Registry either over the phone or through robocalls UNLESS the consumer has granted them permission to do so IN WRITING.  Robocalls that violate these rules are generally scams and are often associated with offers such as debt or mortgage relief, and deals to lower interest rates. The best thing to do is to just hang up.

Be wary of robocalls that instruct you to press “1” to reach a live operator or to press another number to be taken off the list. This is just a ploy to determine if the phone number is active. Punching ANY number will result in future robocalls.

Robocalls are commonly associated with “spoofing”, which is information that is falsified on a caller ID to make it appear that the call is from a legitimate business such as a bank or a business known to the consumer. Fake caller ID’s may also show the number 123456789 or the caller may appear as “unknown”.

In response to the overwhelming number of robocall complaints that have been received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), aggressive action is being taken to identify and shut down a number of businesses that have been in violation. Since 2010, the FTC has stopped over a billion robocalls, largely due to consumer complaints.  Consumers can keep the pressure on by lodging a complaint with the FTC online at www.donotcall.gov or call toll free at 1-888-382-1222.

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