In recent months, many Americans have been receiving calls from parts of the country they have never heard from before. They wonder to themselves, “Who could possibly be calling me from Bristol, Rhode Island? I don’t know anyone in Bristol.” They accept the call, and a voice will tell them that an agent with their firm has reviewed their case file, discovering that they hundreds of dollars in credit card debt, and must pay it all immediately, or else face a smattering of other fees for failure to pay. Fraught with the anxiety of their credit score tanking, they address an envelope to the P.O. box where the voice instructs them to send a check for the full amount. Before they place that envelope in the mail, hopefully they’ll realize they’ve just received a robocall.
They’re almost commonplace nowadays, regarded as more of a nuisance rather than a crime. Strange numbers automatically dial out to phone customers across the country, claiming they’ve won a free cruise or asking for donations to a fraudulent cause. However, many Americans are still not certain about what robocalls are, or the fact that most kinds are illegal.
Robocalls are just one of the latest tools in committing consumer fraud over the phone. There is a great deal of legislation distinguishing which types of robocalls are legal. Conventionally they permit robocalls that convey important and/or emergency information, about things like school closures or natural disasters. With the rise of robocalls at the beginning of the millennium, the National Do Not Call Registry was established so that consumers could place themselves on a list in order to avoid them. However, legitimate telemarketing firms are still allowed to contact you over the phone for legal business, as long as your number is not listed on the Do Not Call registry, and you have not formally opted out of receiving phone communication from the business. Indiana law specifically requires that all prerecorded messages that bot calls are famous for must be introduced by a live operator, as well as providing an address where the caller can be reached.
These types restrictions have forced the “robo-callers” to evolve and adapt. Conventional methods of blocking robocalls have been successful in nearly extinguishing the presence of calls to landlines. With smartphones only growing in use throughout the country, the technology designed to stop robocalls has not yet been perfected for them. The good news is that consumers (like the one receiving robo-debt-collection-calls) are never without resolve when it comes to harassing calls from a number claiming to be a collection agency.
Regardless of whom the robocall claims to represent, there is no legal obligation to speak to anyone over the phone. In the event that the call is legitimate, it is perfectly legal to communicate through your personal or business legal representation. If the call is legitimate, the lawyer can represent your interests and review your options with you. If you are without representation, you can also retain the services of a private investigator to ensure that the call is legitimate. The internet provides the ability to perform a reverse-lookup of suspicious or unfamiliar phone number, but most websites require that you pay for the search results, and after you pay, it might turn out that the information is inaccurate. The professional services of a private investigator allow them access to specific tools that provide accurate information to verify the legitimacy of the robocall. Bearing in mind that there is no agency sanctioned to harass you via telephone, consumers who sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry might find this is an imperfect solution. It will merely put you on a no-contact list required to be observed by all accredited, registered businesses. Although there might be a decrease in unsolicited calls, it still does not prevent illegitimate businesses to contact you with robocalls.
The best recommendation that the Federal Trade Commission has made to consumers who are the victim of robocalls on their smartphones is downloading a third-party mobile app that uses both the hardware and the software of a smartphone to block robocalls from plaguing your mobile device,” “Call blocking apps let you create blacklists – lists of numbers to block from calling your cell phone. Many of these apps also create their own blacklist databases from numbers that have received significant consumer complaints. They also let you create whitelists – numbers to allow – that are broader than just your personal contacts.” This process has so far proven very effective. As users utilize the application, it builds a stronger wall that keeps unwanted robocalls out.
The days of telemarketers who always call during dinner are long gone. Now robots are doing the dialing work. As technology advances, Americans feel more and more paranoid about ways the criminal element might have access to their money. Robocalls have only made it simpler to manipulate vulnerable consumers into parting with their hard-earned income. The Federal Trade Commission is attempting to evolve even faster than scammers, developing technology similar to apps like RoboKiller and Nomorbo that can keep robocall schemes at arm’s length. Professionals like lawyers and private investigators are invaluable sources when validating the legitimacy of a robocall a consumer fears might be legitimate. The most important resource, however, is an informed consumer. Vigilance and skepticism are the first line of defense when dealing with robocall consumer fraud.