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Are Robocalls Legal?

Have you ever rushed to pick up the phone only to find that it is a pre-recorded message about something you have no interest in? Telemarketing and robocalls are not just annoying but can be a waste of one’s time. According to the Federal Trade Commission, some of these calls are illegal. This article will discuss when robocalls are illegal and the ones allowed without your permission.

According to Investopedia [Telemarketing Definition (investopedia.com)] telemarketing is defined as “the direct marketing of goods or services to potential customers over the telephone, internet, or fax. Telemarketing may either be carried out by telemarketers or increasingly, by automated telephone calls or robocalls.” Another definition adds that such calls are “typically unsolicited”. Few people can attest that they have received robocalls when they wanted them. It is more common for people to describe such calls as unwanted telemarketing.

The state of California as well as federal law regulate robocalls under a law called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The actions of telemarketers are considered illegal under this Act if:

· Calls are made to residences using artificial voices or are a recording

· Calling cell phone using an artificial or prerecorded voice or automated telephone equipment

· Calls are made to consumers who are on a do-not-call list

· Failing to observe the National Do Not Call Registry

It is important to note that the state of California bans any robocalls that are made to persons with whom the company does not have an existing relationship. As a result, the regulations that apply are:

· A person is required to come on the line before the pre-recorded voice begins and must identify why they are calling and the organization they represent.

· The inpidual who has been called must consent to have the recording played

· The robocall must cut the call as soon as the pre-recorded message has ended or the resident hangs up

While the above protects from such annoying robocalls it must be noted that some robocalls do not need the resident’s permission to call. According to the Federal Trade Commission rules, you may receive robocalls under the following circumstances:

· When the messages are purely to provide information and not try to sell you something. This applies to robocalls informing you about your flight being canceled, a delay in school opening, or a reminder about an appointment.

· Calls about debt collection – a company can legally call you using a robocall to collect on a debt. However, robocalls selling you a service to lower your debt are illegal; and more often than not are scams

· Automated political calls

· Health care provider calls – this may include automated calls from a pharmacy serving as a reminder to refill a prescription.

· Charities – charities are allowed to make such calls on their own, however, if they hire someone to conduct robocalls on their behalf such calls are illegal if you are not a previous member or donor of the charity. Further, they are required to provide an option allowing you to stop future calls.

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