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(StatePoint) Whether you use a landline, mobile phone or both, you've likely received those pesky robocalls -- phone calls that use a computerized auto-dialer to deliver a pre-recorded message. As a consumer, here is what to know about this common annoyance to your home or personal line.
Robocalls are often illegal. However, keep in mind that some robocalls are permitted, such as companies you have done business with under certain circumstances, medical appointment confirmations and school closing calls. Political and charitable calls are among others that also may be allowed, along with banks and telephone companies, provided those companies make the calls themselves. Remember, many robocalls illegally disguise, or "spoof," their Caller ID information or violate other rules.
Advocates are working to mitigate the problem. For example, NTCAThe Rural Broadband Association and its members of more than 800 independent, community-based telecommunications companies are working to provide information to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Robocall Strike Force to further develop and implement solutions to detect, assess and stop unwanted calls from reaching customers.
Never respond to a robocall. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that if you receive a robocall, simply hang up. They also warn consumers not to press any number to speak to a live operator or to unsubscribe from the list, as this will tell the robocaller that it's reached a live number.
Don't give out personal information: If you receive an unsolicited call from any company, including one you do business with, tell them that you will not give them information until you verify the call is legitimate. Then, call the phone number you know or that you get from the company's website to confirm.
Ask your phone company to block the number. Your carrier may be able to block certain numbers, although robocallers frequently change and disguise their numbers.
You can use technology to block calls. Various companies offer products or services that help you control what calls ring on your phones. They range from mobile apps for wireless phones to devices you can plug into your home phone jacks in order to block robocalls to your wireless phone.
The FTC encourages consumers to report unwanted calls to www.donotcall.gov or 1-888-382-1222. Complaints may also be filed with the FCC online or 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).
More information can be found at ntca.org/robocalls and fcc.gov/consumers/guides.