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This is a guest blog post featured by one of our member law firms – Consumer Action Law Group in California (also appears on their site)
Breaking News: Miami Man Fined a Record $120 Million for Making Robocalls
On June 22nd, the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) proposed a $120 million fine against Miami marketer, Adrian Abramovich, for allegedly making 96 million spoofed robocalls in a three month period. Abramovich broke numerous laws, including the Truth in Caller ID Act. In this article, you will learn how to stop robocalls in light of this historic infringement.
The sheer number of spoofed robocalls made warrants a resounding gong and a red flag. Spoofed calls are essentially having the ability to use a recipient’s first three numbers in a phone number to simulate a call from a local person. Spoofed robocalls work really well because recipients think they’re receiving an important call from someone close to their geographical area, hence picking up the phone. The practice of disguising caller IDs to hide true identity is an issue that the FCC has addressed in their rules and regulations, which is the reason for the lawsuit brought against Abramovich.
The FCC also cited Abramovich for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s robocall limits and the federal wire fraud statute.
Ongoing Issues with Robocalls
One of the main problems with robocalling is that consumers do not know how to stop or prevent these types of calls from happening. This poses a problem because of the lack of perceived control on the recipient’s part. Other problems include:
- An ineffective “unsubscribe” feature
- Lack of resources to make them stop
- Skilled sales professionals
1. Unsubscribe Doesn’t Often Work
Consumers try to opt out of future calls by pressing ‘2’ to unsubscribe during the call. However, many of these sophisticated marketers deploy tools that intentionally do not unsubscribe people. Abramovich’s technology and practice did not grant the recipient’s request to unsubscribe, Abramovich and his group of automated dialers, robo messages kept calling.
2. Too Much Work to Investigate and Report
Some people would try to stop robocalls on their own but would eventually be overwhelmed by the amount of effort that is required. When many people try a solution and it fails, they get stuck and become frustrated and often give up trying to stop the unwanted calls.
3. Effective Sales Professionals
Many offers are legitimate and attractive, while others are false advertisements designed to lure in consumers. Some sales professionals are well-oiled machines trained to persuade consumers into purchasing their products. So, how do you determine if the calls are valid?
Robocalls versus Telemarketers
Dealing with robocalls can be tricky, however, it is also important to know how to deal with telemarketers and telemarketing scams.
Here are some ways to identify between the two.
- Robocalls are automated pre-recorded messages
- Telemarketers are live agents
Once distinction to keep in mind is that some companies use robo messages to begin the promptings in order to get the recipient to respond, upon which the recipient is then transferred to a live agent, at which the sales pitch takes place.
Be mindful of these sayings as they typically indicate a “telemarketing” approach:
- You have been specially selected for (an offer)
- Get a bonus for free for purchasing our product
- You need to make your decision right now
- You’ve won a foreign lottery!
If you hear any of these lines or anything similar to it, say ‘no, thank you’ and hang up immediately.
Hook, Line, and Sinker
Some telemarketing scams use certain tactics to hook consumers into a deeper conversation which eventually lead up to consumers purchasing products.
These tactics should be seen with caution:
- Hidden Costs – If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some free or low-cost travel packages have hidden fees that you won’t find out about until you have to pay for them.
- Charity or Donation – This strategy plays on the emotions of consumers. Be careful when the ‘fundraiser’ refuses to tell you any information about themselves, such as their name, identity, and mission.
- Free Trials – Some free trial offers bill consumers monthly even after the trial ends until they cancel the membership. Others have hidden costs, such as delivery fees, that are not revealed to you over the phone. No free trials remain free forever.
- Credit and Loans Scheme – Any pitch about lowering credit card interest rate or protecting your credit card is especially popular during recessions.
Always make sure the offers are legitimate before purchasing them. You can always search online first or ask the caller to provide information.
Be careful when answering to a robocall. If you press ‘1’ to talk to a representative, hoping to ask them not to call you again, they will more than likely call again, simply because you actually responded to their previous call. It is better to just hang up as soon as you realize it’s an automated call.
5 Specific Ways on How to Stop Robocalls
1. Add Your Phone Number to the FTC’s “Do Not Call List” Registry
The first thing you should do to protect your phone number from receiving countless irrelevant calls is to add your number to the FTC consumer protection “Do Not Call List” registry. While this may not prohibit all phone calls, it will ensure that your number is officially entered into the FTC database.
Here are two ways to add your phone number:
- Option 1: Register for FREE – visit here to register https://www.donotcall.gov
- Option 2: Call this line from the phone number you want to add to the “do not call list” – 1-888-382-1222
2. Manually Add Phone Numbers into Your Internal “block” List
All smartphones have an option that will allow you to add phone numbers to a block list. Once entered into this list, the phone will do just that – block the numbers on that link. The benefit to doing this is that you’ll be able to track your calls directly and then reference it at a future date, should you decide to file a lawsuit against one of the robocalling telemarketers (i.e. the recent FCC case against a Miami native).
The ability to add numbers to your block list should be in the “settings” section of your phone.
3. Don’t Answer Unrecognized Phone Numbers
This might sound simple and obvious, but many people fall into the sales trap of these robocalls because they answer the phone.
Here’s something to keep in mind:
Robocalls are marketing calls leading into the sales cycle. This means that there is a sophisticated marketing and sales process on the other side of these calls. Marketing and sales people are savvy, trained, highly skilled, and prepared for any and all phone calls.
If you don’t answer the calls, you won’t have to go through the dog and pony sales pitch they’ll put you through. And these professionals are quite convincing.
Spare yourself the trouble and do NOT pick up.
4. Use Smartphone Apps to Block Robocalls
Smartphones are a great repository of useful and effective apps. There seems to be an application for any and all occasions, from birthday songs to traffic light changing apps (which is primarily a game, I don’t believe it is possible to change traffic lights in general).
In this case, there is a host of apps that claim to block robocalls.
These are three applications that are quite intriguing and stand out from the crowd.
- Nomboro – https://goo.gl/PXKxmy
Bradley Chambers of thesweetsetup.com has this to say about Nomboro.
“Nomorobo’s call list is another key strength. It has over 51,000 numbers, and they claimed to have stopped over 150 million calls. They were a winner in the 2013 FTC robocall challenge. The list is constantly updated, and it can update without having to launch the app.”
- Callblock – https://goo.gl/m7WkW8
Callblock touts “the world’s biggest directory of telemarketers – now over 3,000,000 classified entries from over 100 countries!”
- Robokiller – https://goo.gl/C9u9bM
As described on their site:
“RoboKiller reduces unwanted calls by up to 85% in 30 days! Robokiller is just $1.99 per month with a free 7-day trial; opt-out at any time during the trial and you aren’t charged a penny.”
5. Bring in the Experts
Often times, technology can help to resolve issues. However, when you reach a point where technology has taken you as far as it can, you may want to consider speaking with experts who can help to stop these calls from flooding your phone.
Experienced attorneys are the people you want to get in touch with.
Here at Consumer Action Law Group, we are experienced in suing telemarketers and companies that deploy automation machines for robocalls. Our goal is to give consumer clients peace of mind knowing that these calls with cease, and when necessary, fight for our clients to receive compensation for their troubles.
Our process is simple:
- Contact Us
- Get Scheduled for a FREE Consultation with an Attorney
- Take Action (if/when necessary)
If you are subject to these endless robocalls, we urge you to get in contact with us by calling:
Or fill in the form on our website: