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Telemarketer 3: Rise of the Robocalls

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Picture this: It’s dinner time. The kids are screaming. Then the phone rings just as you sit down. It could be important, so you run through the toys to the phone. You answer, but all you hear is silence. After a few seconds, a recorded message reminds you that it may be time to have your carpets cleaned and they offer a great deal this month. Or you’ve won a trip. Or you can lower your credit card interest rate.

Does this sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. We hear from many people about these robocalls. If the call is a message from someone selling something, and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from that company, the call is illegal.

In fact, the FTC has stopped many companies from engaging in this illegal conduct. For instance, we just settled a case with USA Vacation Station because it made millions of illegal robocalls to sell vacation packages. Under the settlement, the company and its owner are banned from robocalling anyone ever again.  

Do robocalls bug you, too? If so, watch this video to learn more about them, and the steps you can take to help slow them down.

Comments

How do you stop calls that come 2 - 4 times a day on a cell phone that says "unknown"?

Put your number in the Do Not Call list.

Isn't it about time that robocalls where treated as a jail time felony?

I get calls that are paused and then loudly said "Hello Seniors..." blah blah blah! I usually just hang up. Lately, if there's a pause I hang up before they even get the chance to say anything. I'm on the 'Do Not Call' list so should I report the number that shows up on my caller ID?

I just never answer calls I do not recognize ever! They will finally give up, but I pay for my number to be unpublished but I still get calls, so what am I paying for?? Just don't answer! I do have a block number through my telephone company but can only block 20 numbers, then have to erase some and start over. Would get a better call block device if I knew where to get one!!

I get 50 unknow calls a week,can the FCC stop calls from out of India

When will the FTC bear down on rampant misuse of the public airwaves with commercialized content that is not being sought by the preponderance of
average internet users???

I get these Robocalls everyday and I would love for them to stop! Please let everyone know how we can put a stop to these unwanted calls.

It's alway's good to see our government helping the tax payers.

I have a crank caller who calls between 5 - 9 time a say every weekday, except holidays. then hangs up as soon as I answer or the 9 seconds after the machine answers. The phone company (Frontier) won't help, the sheriff won't help except o say that I change change my number

I have Frontier also and went thru same thing with the calls and phone company and the sheriffs, they won't do anything either. I signed for for the "Do Not Call" list too but it would only do the do not calls from ins. companies. What other # is there for the other do not call calls?

You can opt out of getting mail about preapproved credit cards and insurance. This FTC article explains how to stop certain unwanted mail and calls.

We get multiple calls a day from an outfit that uses the same root number, 448-6596, but changes the area code, presumably to evade call blocking. I've gotten them from 502, 270, 859, 606, etc. Irritates me to no end. Please continue to go after these unscrupulous robocallers.

Political calls are bad enough. Now I'm getting rob calls- Last one an automated demand that I call back immediately because the IRS has filed a claim against me. Would be disturbing if not so over done. Jerks. 757-951-1267 (ID'd as Starnet Paetrec)

Hello, we are a law firm in Arizona. We have been getting 2-3 calls per day from people all over the country saying someone from our office called them (blocked numbers) saying that they have a pending settlement and to give them money to release the settlement. It seems like the calls are getting more frequent. What do we do?

You may want to talk with your phone carrier, or put a message on your answering machine.

Been receiving card services scam call for years......YEARS! I only answer calls from friends and relatives now. There's not much use in blocking them because they just spoof another number. <sigh>. There is another annoying "Cancer" charity (yeah right) who has amped up the calls this week. I'd like to know what database they filter to find all of us Senior Citizens. We're being preyed upon and no one seems to be concerned about it.

Scam calls have gotten so bad that I don't answer the phone unless I recognize the number. I shouldn't have to do that since I've missed some legitimate calls because of this practice.

It should be illegal to spoof caller id. It should be illegal for any phone company to forward along spoofed numbers.

All phone companies should be forced to provide free blocking of numbers, including blocked numbers (really annoying when scammers call from unlisted numbers as those calls can't be blocked on mobile phones).

Making filing fees in Small Claims for TCPA violations a bit more palatable and more information for it (if the FTC would support it) would be another great way to continue to crack down. Those of us who have filed suit successfully against robocallers know it does take money and time, but hitting these guys in the wallet is the way to fight back.

We get daily calls from Bridget at Credit Card services for about a year now. Every single day. Even Sunday. We no longer answer the phone unless we know the person on the caller id. We are on the Do Not Call list. That's crap. It doesn't work. Robocalls are illegal. Does Bridget know that?

I have registered all my phone numbers in the national do not call register, and I haven't received any call since then!

Getting calls from 1-877-317-5659 3. Or 4 times a day for months. Checked with reverse phone number site and it isa relemarket number. Calls 7 days a week Starting at 8am ,noon,pm,and evening. I blocked the number on my phone,but still the calls. I hope that people will start blocking these calls. Maybe the robocalls will give Up.

Florida has the right idea. If you are on the do not call list and marketers or etc. call you, you have a book to list the caller and send to the Agriculture Department. Those people are fined $500.00. You are not able to get "We are on the donot....." and the caller is gone and your number apparently removed from the database.

I don't understand why a telephone company will not put a stop to this. At least the caller should have to give a business name and brief message.

We are Senior Citizens and we do not feel we can answer our phone due to robo and other calls. It is windows, computer techs, warranties, soliciting donations, you name it. We pay a whopping phone bill for the few calls we receive for us. We do not ask for the calls, not interested in the calls, so please do something so we can enjoy our high price phone that is being used for others welfare.

It's time to make all telemarketing calls illegal.

Charity calls, charity junk mail! They need to STOP! I get all kinds of free gifts from charities and I don't need or want any more!!! I've tried writing or emailing them to take me off their mailing list or put me on their do not call list, but that doesn't work! I keep getting mail and phone calls from new charities!! I tried sending the mail back, writing return to sender on the envelope, but the mail carrier said I couldn't do that, cause the mail wouldn't return to sender. It would only go to a dead letter office. The mail and phone calls are driving me crazy!

Charities are exempt from National Do Not Call Registry , so even if you register your number, charities are allowed to call you.

However, if a fundraiser calls on behalf of a charity, you can say:

  • I don't want calls on behalf of this charity
  • I don't want calls from the charity itself.

If you get calls after you told them  to stop, please report it to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint.

Been trying to stop them for months to no avail. Now I keep them on the line as long as possible, taking up their time and ultimately they hang up and the call stops.

I didn't know about the scam using my own phone number and it took me by surprise so I did hit 9 to flow the instruction and find out what company they were calling from. He was talking too fast and I don't hear that well but he did not answer with the same name each time I asked. He said he represented Chase. MasterCard, Visa and more but I quit listening and asked how I could reach his employer and he said he was trying to save me money on my credit cards and I said I cancelled my cards so tell me which bank gave you my number and he would not do if. How can you file a complaint when they show the caller ID is my own phone? I have enough medical problems I don't need the ongoing stress from this and I don't have a home phone anymore because of this. I'm ready to go without a phone at all or buy a disposable phone for emergency services and to contact relatives but that's not fair. I pay taxes and I have my rights and don't see anyone protecting my right to privacy. I can't even file a complaint because all of the numbers aren't real so how do I complain when the caller can't be identified?

I entered a comment yesterday evening about a call that came from what appeared to be my own phone but I also looked at more information and others comments. I know it's not my cell phone companies fault but these texts or calls that are picked up, messages left,it takes up my minutes, my storage even if I block them. If I delete them I don't have evidence of the messages and again if the number is "spoofed" how does the FCC find these people to act in our defense? My brother told me there is an app I can buy but why should I spend more money for my civil rights and how long or how much is enough to protect my privacy? Identity theft protection, insurance poor since everything has to be insured but insurance doesn't cover everything so you have to have a home security system and it's getting ridiculous that we have to pay so much just to have a normal existence! I am sure there are lobbyists for all the above that don't want legislation because the industry that makes money helping us is actually getting rich from it. Watched an old show called The Boonies and can see why people move away from technology; there is no technology friendly to any user when it invades your life. I can't even safely opt out of an email because I can't open it. I just move it to spam. There should be simple free user friendly ways to educate the masses how to use your phone or look something up on the internet without getting thousands of unsolicited emails. This subject alone had thousands of hits and of course the few lines I could see had solutions but you could tell they were marketing and not news articles or it was a news article but to read it you had to turn private browsing off and the advertisement for the article started sending me emails so I at least learned a safe site is https but safe doesn't mean I want them to latch into my phone and email and harass me. I like the post that said someone is required by law to show their real number and if it was unsolicited and have been told not to call back; the next time you would redial and it would charge the marketer .25! With all my unwanted calls that could pay the costs of the identity protection plan!

I have a brand new phone and account only 25 days now the number was obviously someone else's who was having bad-debt issues - not knowing how to deal with it like an adult. The day after I activated my phone the calls started. If you discount Sundays when they don't seem to call there's been about 145..ish unsolicited robo-calls. That's an average of 6.59 per day roughly. I finally contacted a lawyers two days ago. Today the calls seemed to have stopped (only 3 came in, two were known sociopathic low brow knuckle dragging scammers). As soon as I started gathering records and organizing them for the lawyer the calls stop. Isn't that just ironic. I'm 69 years old and I don't need this nonsense; too many other things in life have much higher priorities. Why the gov. can't stop this crap BEFORE it begins seems to be misdirected resources issues. They put too much time into finding phantom terrorists by spying on average citizens' phone calls and internet use, but they can't located these robodialing scumbags, who are nothing more than warts on normal society. The fact that they are basically bad people annoying good people is bad enough, but the fact that they do it so effectively using great cutting edge technology makes it all the worse. I fail to see why the federal gov. seems totally inept here doesn't surprise me, but it does anger me. The job of gov. is to protect the population it governs. Why the FCC can't employ adaptive technology while the security services are witch-hunting the general population for so-called dangerous potential terrorists, tells me they may have their priorities turned around somehow.

If everyone with a cellphone sent the White-house a brief letter saying they were considering withholding paying of all taxes that year, I'd bet there'd be some rapid changes made in how the gov. is looking for bogey-men instead of finding the real lowlife morons. I had one caller from Mexico calling me 9 times yesterday alone, and 6 or 7 other times in the past five or so days, including one call today. What's funny is how this moron/idiot stopped calling me today, only after I figured out what bank this other person having my number previously was in a bad-debt situation with.

Fortunately I also had an account with them in very good standing (paying my bills even before they come due). They listened carefully to me as I explained it was a brand new cellphone account and the number they were trying to harass was now mine - not the foolish simpleton who had used it before me. They did some checking of their records, proving I was who I said I was etc. - and got it ironed out especially after I told them I'd contacted a lawyer already. Today the calls from this creepy bean bandit stopped. I still got a couple other calls but I was amazed how after contacting the bank in question. They got the message and stopped the bullshit.

I actually stumbled upon the bank (also my bank too) by accident and coincidentally; they had sent a text msg. thinking my number was till going to the other person - the former number user. I put it together after talking to the bank people about my account status. The light bulb went off, the person with the bad-debt problems had an account with them too, and they were sending a text to her (her name was Ramona I found out, she had all kinds of student loan debt). Anyway the calls seemed to have stopped on a seconds notice. The bank is behind a bout 3/4 of them, they hired the scummers to do the harassing and it stopped as soon as they realized the were harassing the wrong person.

I continuously receive calls from numbers that don't exist. They should have one number to use not many.... This is unfair when trying to report this. I can on any given day report four to five calls. When I call that number back it is a non-working number or hangs up on me. This in itself should be illegal.

Yes this is a big nuisance that is increasing exponentially. I thank FTC for trying to develop strategies. However this info from FTC needs to be sent out to everyone. I was lucky to come across this FTC message only after doing an internet search. I wish I knew back on March about this info.

Thank you for this helpful video! At one time I was getting scam/ robo calls 2-3 times per week. So a couple months ago I registered my phone number on the DNC registry. But shortly after doing that it's like the flood gates opened up, and now literally every day I'm getting scam/robo calls. I really don't get why the amount of scam calls changed after I registered my phone #, it's bizarre imho. But, it's most annoying and frustrating. Whenever they call I don't answer my phone, and the last few scammers have left me VM's...voice mails! Having to listen to my saved VM's just to finally get to their nonsense and delete it is very frustrating! I truly hope one day these people/harassers can be stopped for good. I appreciate all the FTC is trying to do now....keep fighting the good fight!

The FTC is doing nothing substantive to stop this abuse. The Do Not Call list has become a directory for the scum-bag companies. The FTC can't or won't stop these companies. The law has to be zero telemarketing calls and criminal prosecution of offenders. But it will never happen because the telecommunications industry has power over the lawmakers and you and I don't.

I hope that whoever got the automated call from (949)009-0301 didn't press 1 after getting that message about their computer, which I find is completely bogus and that no tech support ever makes unsolicited calls.

recommend Interagency agreement with Seal Team 6. keep them in practice

I got the message and they said you will receive the call and press the two digit like 48 0r 30. I press the bottom they said some kind of service is activated. And conform your name.I don't understand what was that. Is it scams? Please give some hints.. Thanks

If you get a robocall:

  • Hang up the phone. Don't press 1 to speak to a live operator and don't press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
  • Consider contacting your phone provider and asking them to block the number, and whether they charge for that service. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.
  • Report your experience to the FTC online at or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

Thank you for video, I didn't realize so many people were having this problem and actually reported it as a phone defect. I just started getting them this past year and think maybe as I have arrived at their senior citizen list.

As I was just watching the video I got a Rob call just now, they call all day long and into the night.We are so sick and tired of these calls and nothing can be done to stop them ? I don't understand ? Is there a certain number to call just for Robo Calls to be blocked or is there only the Do Not Call.Gov number ? When they call they don't say a word and hang up , what is the point of this ? Any help out there ?

The FTC doesn't have a separate number you can call to block robocalls. If you're already registered for the Do Not Call list, you shouldn't get calls from businesses that follow the law. Unfortanately, scammers don't obey the law.

If you're getting a lot of calls from the same number, you can ask your carrier about call blocking solutions, or see if your phone or answering machine have blocking options.

This FTC video shows some tips and tricks people use to cope with robocalls.

My carrier blocks all call wit no CID. This does not stop the daily robocalls. If I do not recognize the number or "unknown" as the CID name I do not speak into the phone when I answer it. If there is silence or recording starts then I hang up.

Requiring Carriers to not forward Spoofed CID calls is the only answer to stop this. Similar rule that Banks cannot pass on Counterfeit Money.

Unfortunately the answer will not come from the Telcos and Carriers, they are making money passing these Bogus calls on. The consumer is the victim.

If the FCC would prohibit spoofing of caller ID information, and if service providers would prevent it, it would be harder for robocallers to do what they do, and easier to block them. Why isn't this happening?

To the FTC: There is no TRY. There is only DO. These are electronic calls - easily traceable. It would be easy to stop, at least the larger offenders, if the law was more than lip-service.

It's time to outlaw all telemarketing. The FTC doesn't have the ability to handle the current level of calls made today. VOIP systems let criminals hide behind spoofing systems. Easy solution outlaw all telemarketing.

I get calls from a business and they have multiple real agent that calls so it's not illegal and I can't do anything a cause I live in Canada so the ftc can't do anything

Don't Answer calls you do not know. Make sure your number is blocked and call back. They do not who is calling. Mark the number so you do not answer in the future. 1 or 2 calls and they quit calling. Plus I hardly get any calls any more from different companies. I'd you answer that's the time you will get most calls. It's easy to stop. In joy your free time

Please, FTC, put a stop to offenders of the Do Not Call list. Else what good does it do to have the list?

THE DO NOT CALL LIST IS A JOKE I KEEP GETTING THEM EVEN AFTER I SIGNED UP 6 MONTHS LATER AND STILL TODAY THESE IDIOTS CALL

REWARD REDEMTION CALLS ME ALL HOURS OF THE DAY AND NIGHT EVEN AT 11 PM THESE FREAKS CALL

i actually got a robo call that showed my phone number has the number calling.

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