“Hello?” “Hellooo?” You say and then suddenly hear a pre-recorded message. It’s usually a voice telling you they can get you a lower interest rate on your credit card or offering you some kind of extended warranty on your home or car. Or lately, a political call from someone telling you why you should vote for them.
We are getting more robocalls now than ever before. Why? The latest in technology is making it very easy and affordable for businesses to use robocalls as a way to reach potential or existing customers. Why would they pay for an expensive advertisement, website, or direct mail campaign when they can reach more people for less money with robocalls?
If you’re sick of getting robocalls, here’s the bad news: though most of them are illegal—meaning you haven’t given written permission to be contacted by the caller but they call you anyway—it is tough to get them to stop. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down now more than ever, but perpetrators are difficult to track and stop. And the volume of people to go after is unmanageable. The FTC needs help; they’re even running a $50,000 contest asking innovators to come up with a solution to block illegal robocalls. What’s your $50,000 idea?
Also, if you’re sick of political robocalls, you’re out of luck because they’re perfectly legal. Robocalls that are informational in nature, as opposed to those trying to sell you something are allowed—even if they seem excessive. Because I am an unaffiliated registered voter living in a swing state during an election year, I’ve been getting my fair share of robocalls.
But here’s the good news: the election is almost over. And you don’t have to answer your phone if you don’t recognize the number. When it comes to someone trying to sell you something, they’re likely to stop calling if you never answer your phone and take the bait.
If you do answer your phone, don’t press any buttons. You may be consenting to something you don’t realize and calls might increase. Just hang up and report it to the FTC at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222. While calls may continue, at least you’ve reported it and hopefully the authorities will eventually catch them. Also, if your number is not on the national Do-Not-Call list, get it on there now!
Tell us about the robocalls you’ve received. How often do you get them? Are they from marketers or political campaigns? Do you think political calls are informational as the laws deem or are they promotional? If you own a business, what do you think about the practice of robocalls?