American telephones were hammered by a record 2.3 billion robocalls in January 2016. Those numbers are according to a report released by YouMail, a provider of intelligent voice communications services for consumers and small businesses.
A robocall is a phone call that uses a computerized autodialer to deliver a recorded message. While there could be various reasons for welcomed recorded messages telling you to pick up your prescription at the pharmacy, or your child’s school is closed tomorrow for a snow day, the recent numbers show that robocalls are becoming an increasing example of well meaning technology turned into a obnoxious nuisance
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations prohibit anyone from making robocalls to cell phone numbers without the recipients’ prior consent. But with more and more consumers using cell phones as their primary phone number, many robocalls do not take the time to distinguish cell phones from traditional telephone lines. Federal law requires all telephone calls using pre-recorded messages to identify who is initiating the calls and include a telephone number or address whereby the initiator can be reached. But many robocalls are very vague in identifying the true identity of the organization initiating the call.
One one hand as government agencies attempt to regulate unwanted phone calls, the politicians find ways to circumvent the system. Congress has made exceptions to the TCPA, such as the one last fall that allows companies that collect student loan payments on behalf of the Department of Education to robocall consumers. The current presidential campaign shows how robocalls are being made by many political parties in the United States. Sadly, political robocalls are exempt from the United States National Do Not Call Registry created by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Check out some of the suggestions in the attached video for tips on what can you do to fight the increase in unwanted calls. There are various technology tools you can use to fight back. Nomorobo is a free service for intercepting robocalls that won the Federal Trade Commission’s Robocall Challenge, and is currently supported on landline phones provided by cable carriers such as Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon FiOS, and many others. Robokiller is another robocall interceptor mentioned in the attached video but is only available for iPhone users. YouMail, an independent visual voicemail provider who gathered the robocall statistics, provides software for intercepting the unwanted calls. There are a variety of free and premium services provided by YouMail for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone.