Everyone has received a call from a robo dialer or telemarketer at some point. According to the Federal Communications Commission, there are just about 2.4 billion robocalls made every month to consumers. These unwanted calls are annoying, disruptive, and always seem to occur at the most inopportune times. 

Where do they get my information?

You may be wondering how these callers get your phone number in the first place. Telemarketers and robo dialing companies can get this information from a variety of sources.   

Applications like those for credit cards, contest entries, or a signup form for an online service may contain language that allows the company to sell this information to solicitors. The Terms of Use on smartphone apps that many people skim or skip over entirely may also contain information about who will get access to your personal information. 

Unfortunately, some charities trade or sell donor contact information as another revenue method. After donating, you may start to receive contact from other groups that you’re not familiar with.  

Sometimes the process for number retrieval is completely automated and random. Certain technology can rapidly dial numbers to determine all of the possible combinations currently in use, including those that are unlisted. 

How can I get calls to stop?

Register your phone number with the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry. Not all telemarketers abide by this list, but it should help reduce the number of calls you receive. 

You can also download an app for your smartphone that alerts you when a caller is suspected spam. This should help you weed out some of the calls.

Robo dialers and telemarketers are becoming increasingly tech savvy. Not only do they engage in caller ID spoofing where they mask the actual number with one from your area code, they have also begun to engage in ringless voicemail. Ringless voicemail means that your cell phone will suddenly have a voicemail message without it ever ringing. This tactic renders the spam alert apps useless, and has become a partisan issue as Democrats and Republicans dispute over whether or not the Telephone Consumer Protection Act covers this type of contact. You can contact your representatives to let them know that you’re opposed to the use of ringless voicemail. 

Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), lenders, telemarketers, and debt collectors need your permission before they can contact you on your cell phone. In some agreements, you may unknowingly agree to this type of contact, but you can always revoke your consent. Send a letter to the caller stating that they no longer have permission to contact you. If the calls continue, keep a call log and get in touch with a consumer protection attorney. The TCPA allows consumers to recover between $500-$1500 for each violating call or text. 

Be careful with personal information

In the future, think twice about where you share your information online and on forms and applications. Always read the fine print so that you know what you’re agreeing to before you sign.  
 

Published on

August 28, 2017