Consumers’ Phone Lines Shut Down by Robocalls

Maureen Mahoney
Public Policy Fellow

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
man on phone at computer

Robocalls are not only annoying – they can also create truly scary situations. Lately, we’ve received several stories from consumers who have been harassed by astonishing numbers of automated calls and by malicious, unscrupulous scammers.

Michelle, from Charlottesville, VA has one of the most upsetting recent stories. According to Michelle, after she asked the robocallers to leave her alone, they bothered her daughter at work (spoofing Michelle’s own phone number) and started calling every fifteen minutes.

“Last night when I started getting the robocalls I asked the callers to stop and told them that I would contact my senator if they did not stop. They hung up and called my daughter at work with our home phone number. She dropped what she was doing thinking that something was wrong. When she called me, she said that she thought that it was me calling in an emergency because they used our home phone number to call her. They then started calling my house phone every 15 minutes. I ended up having to unplug all of my phones.”

Martha, of Vail, AZ found her phone line tied up for a half-hour at a time while being spammed with over 100 robocalls in one day. She has no other way of calling 911 in an emergency.

We’ve gotten over 100 robocalls at our home today; this is the second time it’s happened this week. In addition to being annoying, it presents a danger~~the way the calls are coming in is that while our Panasonic phone is refusing one call, the next is lined up and waiting, so we can’t get a dial tone out till the caller is through with the multiple attempts. (They’ve been coming in groups lasting about 30 minutes.)

There are no available cell phone signals where we live (tucked in mountains in southern Arizona); we have to drive 4 miles down the highway to get a signal. We have no way to call 911 should there be a fire or other emergency. And we live in a high-danger fire zone!”

Richard of Los Angeles had a similar experience. Robocallers spammed his phone about 500 times in a single 5-hour period. The calls continued well into the night.

I received a call for a vacation package about 30 days ago that was a robocall. I hung up and the phone rang again within seconds. When I listened to the message, I entered the number that said I was not interested and I wanted to be removed from their data  base. A few seconds later i received the same call, and I would hear my call waiting beep, when I answered, it was the same message. This lasted for hours after 8:00 PM until 1:00 AM Pacific time. I had to unplug my phones as I was unable to sleep. I estimate that I received between 400-600 callls in that time frame. I could not call out as it tied up my line. Very dangerous.”

These stories show that robocalls aren’t just a nuisance – they can pose a serious threat to consumers’ health and safety. Consumers deserve good phone service, not a line so clogged with robocalls that it’s impossible to make an outbound call. Every phone customer should have access to free, effective robocalls blocking tools. Click here to join us as we fight for a world without unwanted robocalls.

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