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If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it's a robocall.  We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of illegal robocalls because internet-powered phone systems have made it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world, and to hide from law enforcement by displaying fake caller ID information.

To date, the FTC has brought more than a hundred lawsuits against over 600 companies and individuals responsible for billions of illegal robocalls and other Do Not Call violations.

The FTC also is leading several initiatives to develop technology-based solutions. Those initiatives include a series of robocall contests that challenge tech gurus to design tools that block robocalls and help investigators track down and stop robocallers. We’re also encouraging industry efforts to combat caller ID spoofing. Here’s the FTC’s game plan to combat robocalls:

  • continue aggressive law enforcement
  • build better tools for investigating robocalls 
  • coordinate with law enforcement, industry, and other stakeholders
  • stimulate and pursue technological solutions.

Details About the FTC’s Robocall Initiatives

2015 DetectaRobo Contest

As part of the National Day of Civic Hacking, the FTC is challenging techies to use call data to predict which incoming calls are robocalls.

2015 Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back Contest

The FTC is challenging the DEF CON community to create a tool that people can use to block and forward unwanted robocalls automatically. Forwarded calls will go to a honeypot — a data collection system that researchers and investigators can use to study the calls.

2014 Zap Rachel Contest

At DEF CON 22, the FTC challenged tech gurus to help us zap Rachel and her robocall buddies by creating the next-generation robocall honeypot.

2012-2013 Robocall Challenge

The agency challenged innovators to create solutions that will block illegal robocalls. The challenge is now closed and the three winners with groundbreaking ideas were announced in April 2013.

2012 Robocall Summit

The FTC hosted a one-day public event on Thursday, October 18, 2012 to discuss the rapid rise in illegal robocalls and identify potential solutions. You can view videos and PowerPoint presentations from the event’s panels.

More Information About Robocalls


Telemarketing sales calls with recorded messages are generally illegal unless you have given the company written permission to call you.

Infographic: How Does a Robocall Work?

This visual guide shows how robocalls happen.

Spread the Word

Shareable Tips

  • On Do Not Call list & getting robocalls you don’t want? Hang up. Pressing any number can lead to more calls.
  • The FTC has stopped billions of illegal robocalls! Report robocalls online at

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