Consumers to CU: We’re ready to move forward on robocalls!

Experts

Public Policy Fellow

By Maureen Mahoney on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

We put out a call to the grassroots to fight back against illegal robocalls — and thousands of you answered that call. We’re primed to fight back against unwanted robocalls.

The constant stream of illegal telemarketing calls — many of them from scammers trying to make a quick buck — have motivated consumers to speak up. So far, we’ve received over 25,000 stories from consumers like you. Some of the most powerful stories have come from caregivers. Elizabeth of Vermont says: “We get calls at all hours. My husband is terminally ill with cancer. I am his caregiver. The last thing we need right now is a bunch of phone calls that we don’t want!! It has to stop!!”

Night workers are also sick and tired of intrusive calls. For example, Helenisa of Louisiana works the night shift as a nurse. She only has time for a few hours’ sleep during the day – and the calls keep her from getting practically any sleep at all. “[W]hen I am getting to bed just falling asleep, usually after lunch, the call comes, wakes me up then I am not able to go back to sleep. Since I get up at 5 pm to be at work 6:45 pm till 7:30 am next day I get less than 4 hours sleep and rest to work 12 plus hours again. Block those calls please!”

But things are starting to change. Authorities in Washington are currently considering whether to allow phone companies to effectively block robocalls with promising new tools. Together we sent a strong message with over 50,000 signatures to regulators in support of call-blocking, and over 23,500 of you offered your own thoughts to them. We are moving forward and our grassroots efforts are making a difference!

How have robocalls affected you and your family? Share your thoughts!

24 responses to “Consumers to CU: We’re ready to move forward on robocalls!”

  1. Gary says:

    Surely the technology exists with the phone companies to stop unwanted calls. Consumers should be provided a ‘free’ (I’m sure they will adjust rates to maintain profit, but shouldn’t be allowed to turn it into a revenue generator) option to dial “*55” (or some such number) immediately after receiving an unwanted call, to register a record of that call. Once 50, 100, 500, or some reasonably low number of unwanted calls are recorded for the same originating number, the phone company automatically blocks all future connections from that phone. [Of course, if the caller has the ability to spoof a different phone number, even to the phone companies, it wouldn’t work.) AND, exceptions SHOULD NOT be made for surveys, and charities, and especially campaigning, which are currently allowable under Do Not Call.

  2. Michael Isaacs says:

    Our house phone, a land line, is a constant target for robocalls and unsolicited telemarketer. Most of these have no way to request being put on a never call again list.

    Recently both my wife’s cell phone and my own have begun receiving similar “junk” calls.

  3. Lianne Howard says:

    I have had my phone # (land line) for 7 years. I’m STILL receiving robots calls from collection agencies for the person who had the number before me. When I finally got tired of ignoring them and tried to explain the situation, I made the mistake of giving them my name. The calls actually increased, more than one agency is now calling, and they found my cell number, and are now calling it as well. I have a pay as you go cell service, so I get charged for every cal, even if I don’t answer. Then there are the other robots calls…..for what, I don’t even know.

  4. Doug Wade says:

    The thing I have found out is you can’t report them. I have my number registered on the “do not call’ list. When you do, you have to have their phone number. Well, they are using a fake device that displays a number that is not working. I know this because I won’t answer, and then call back, hoping to get the automated choice to have my number taken off their database. When I call back, I get one of those 3 beep beep beep, and the recording: “I’m sorry but the number you have dialed is either incorrect or has been discontinued”. They are circumventing the process so they won’t be fined. I find this unprofessional in every manner.

  5. Shawn McCurdy says:

    (Part 2) …no reputable company would EVER do anything like that in such a way. When I reported it to my phone carrier and asked them to block the calls, they said they couldn’t do anything about it unless the caller left a number…(!) I said, “Well that’s exactly what the problem is… Can’t you do something about that?”

  6. Shawn McCurdy says:

    (Part 1) Once, I answered a friend’s phone by mistake, thinking it was them calling (forgetting to check caller ID)… but instead it was some telemarketer with a foreign accent who kept acting like I was authorizing something I wasn’t, and he just wouldn’t take NO for an answer. It had something to do with my friend’s computer but I didn’t know what. This telemarketer would not listen to me when I patiently tried to explain that it was not my phone, and that I was not authorized to do ANY sort of business transaction thereof. He kept acting like everything I said meant “Yes, go ahead,” before I could hang up. Then when I said, “No no, don’t do that,” it would start all over again… This went on for I don’t know how long. Also, I’ve receieved countless robocalls and/or unsolicited telemarketing calls on my cell phone. How did they get my number, and who authorized that? I’ve repeatedly been woken up every morning, for at least a week at a time, until I had to just turn my phone off when I went to bed. Even on a landline with caller ID, these callers never identify themselves. Robocalls often don’t even leave a number. To me, that’s beyond rude, it’s flat out bizarre… who does that? After being plagued by one such call (on my cell) every morning for a week, I finally called back just to tell them to stop calling me, and I heard the following recorded message: “B241 test successful.” WHAT test? This SERIOUSLY creeped me out. Such calls are more than just annoying. In addition to loss of sleep, at times they have caused me some considerable anxiety, which is hazardous to both my mental and physical health– especially when the same calls just keep on coming. By answering the “B241 test” calls, they again seemed to be acting as if I had authorized or consented to something I didn’t. Merely answering an anonymous call just to find out who is calling and/or tell them to stop calling, is NOT implied consent. I really doubt if it was any sort of routine test by my phone carrier, because

  7. Nancy says:

    Let’s Boycott any service or charity, or political party that CALLs people. That will change things quickly.

  8. Beth Jane Freeman says:

    My phones are for me to talk to my friends and family. I resent people cold calling me, and when it’s a machine, I resent it even more. Who would buy anything from someone who calls you up out of the blue?

  9. C Stoff says:

    We signed up with NoMoRoBo.com They are able to block/hang up some of the robo calls. THANK GOODNESS! the number of calls has considerably decreased. Now, we wait for one ring and if the phone automatically hangs up on the call, we know it was a robocall. Otherwise, if we don’t recognize the number, we let it ring until the answer machine starts…if it’s a real call, the person will leave a message. The robocalls should be illegal. And in lieu of that, then certainly allow the phone companies to block them as requested.

  10. Margaret Stringer says:

    The robocalls, both telemarketing and any other kind, should be illegal, and penalized to the maximum. Most of the robocalls are scams in nature anyway. The telecoms must be profiting hugely from selling their services to the scammers, so the telecoms are glad to participate in various scamming and phishing phone calls, and will do nothing about it. The law has to be made, and ENFORCED to it’s full extent. Enough!

    • The Telephone Consumer Protection Act [“TCPA”] was passed into law in 1991. The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is empowered to issue rules and regulations implementing the TCPA. Among other things, the TCPA allows individuals to file lawsuits and collect damages for receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls, faxes, pre-recorded calls or autodialed calls.
      The TCPA prohibits autodialed calls or robo-calls to consumers cellphones unless the caller has obtained the consumer’s express written consent.
      The TCPA provides for either actual damages or statutory damages ranging from $500.00 to $1,500.00 per unsolicited call/message. In determining the final amount of statutory damages to award, courts analyze whether the defendant “willfully” or “knowingly” violated the TCPA. Considering that telemarketing campaigns often involve thousands to, in some cases, millions, of calls/text messages, potential damages under the TCPA may escalate very quickly.

  11. Hylda Pherigo says:

    Last year I was terminated from my job due to frequent absences because I was in and out of the hospital getting chemo and surgery and radiation and all the other horrors of cancer treatment. At one point I was cleared by my eight doctors to work part-time; and I made the HORRIBLE DECISION to put my resume and phone number up on CareerBuilder.com. In the first 12 hours I had received almost 20 sketchy robocalls from illegitimate businesses wanting me to press one to speak to an agent and “go to work immediately,” or whatever. I have since taken my phone number off the site but the irritating calls continue.

    Of course, this is on top of other sketchy robocalls from medical bill collectors trying to squeeze a few more dollars out of me before my bankruptcy goes through.

    So now I’m dealing with breast cancer, fighting my insurance company, screaming at bill collectors, and being hounded by liers who call all day promising me a job.WHAT A NIGHTMARE. I know this is immoral, but it HAS TO BE ILLEGAL.

    • It is illegal and there are very effective remedies for consumers.

      The Telephone Consumer Protection Act [“TCPA”] was passed into law in 1991. The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is empowered to issue rules and regulations implementing the TCPA. Among other things, the TCPA allows individuals to file lawsuits and collect damages for receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls, faxes, pre-recorded calls or autodialed calls.
      The TCPA prohibits autodialed calls or robo-calls to consumers cellphones unless the caller has obtained the consumer’s express written consent.
      The TCPA provides for either actual damages or statutory damages ranging from $500.00 to $1,500.00 per unsolicited call/message. In determining the final amount of statutory damages to award, courts analyze whether the defendant “willfully” or “knowingly” violated the TCPA. Considering that telemarketing campaigns often involve thousands to, in some cases, millions, of calls/text messages, potential damages under the TCPA may escalate very quickly.

  12. LEE says:

    Fine every robocaller – maybe $1000 a call.

  13. Dietmar Schlei says:

    I am handicapped, and I am not always close to the phone. Each time a call comes in I have to hobble to the phone just to find out, somebody wants to sell me something I don’t need or want

  14. Colleen Dobrzynski says:

    Enough Already!! I want to be paid if I have to answer the telephone and listen to their “BS”. PAY ME!!!

  15. Lauren Jesus says:

    Rachel from cardholder services called me the other day, but the problem wasn’t so much that she called (she always does, at least once a week), it was that her number on my caller id was MY number. It’s creepy and should be completely illegal!

  16. Carol Woodward says:

    I get robo calls all the time. I hang them up and sometimes my line isn’t cleared and I pick up the phone to use it and the recording is still going. I needed the phone for an emrgency once and had to wait for the call to finish before I could dial out. I too am starting to get some of the calls on my cell phone. They should be outlawed completely and fined heavily. Even the political ones that take on their own life during election times. Please get rid of these robo calls.

  17. Joyce Weinstock says:

    my husband works nights and they call all day long. When I work from home, I answer them and they are always someone doing that Microsoft scam from India. I’ve started telling them I don’t have a computer. I’d block them if they ever called from a real number. Now they’re starting to bother me on my CELL PHONE too!

  18. Linda Feldman says:

    Another problem with robo-calls is that even after we hang up these calls keep OUR phone lines engaged for the duration of the message, and the political calls are very long. This is dangerous, in the same way being unable to call 911 from a hotel room is dangerous, and is reason enough to ban them.

    • Linda:

      Just turn your cellphone off and then back on again. That will cancel the original call and leave your phone free to make whatever call you desire.

      Also, if an option is given at the end of their pitch for you to get off of their ‘call’ list, DO NOT USE IT! If you do, all you are doing is confirming that they’ve reached a valid phone number and someone that will listen to an entire pitch. You will remain on their list and your number will be sold to other telemarketers.

      If you see an unfamiliar number calling your cell phone, just hit the ‘answer’ key and then the ‘hang-up key.’ Anyone but a telemarketer will probably call you again, thinking that their call was merely ‘dropped’ by the carrier.

      Gene Grossman – http://www.LegalMystery.com

      • Linda Feldman says:

        Thank you for the tip…I’ll do that if I ever get a marketing call on my cell phone. So far, it hasn’t happened. The problem is with the land line and political robocalls…they are very long-winded. Anyway, at least I don’t answer them anymore…caller ID helps with that. Cheers…

  19. Bonita Nowak says:

    I just wonder how it can be stopped. Unlike others who work outside the home and/or are caregivers or folks who aren’t well… they are only bothering me personally. I still resent that this happens. My calls are nearly all the Microsoft scam. Do we even know who is making these calls? Are we going to have to pay to have them blocked?

  20. Robert Satler says:

    Should have never been allowed to begin with.

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