Robocalls are calls made with an autodialer or that contain a message made with a prerecorded or artificial voice.
Advances in technology have unfortunately allowed illegal and spoofed robocalls to be made from anywhere in the world and more cheaply and easily than ever before. That’s why it’s become more of a problem for consumers, and a more difficult problem to solve.
Keep in mind that many robocalls are legal. While we have taken several actions, and continue to work on reducing illegal robocalls, it is a difficult problem that requires complex solutions. The most complex part is identifying the illegal calls in real time to be able to block them without blocking lawful calls.
- What are the rules for robocalls?
FCC rules require a caller to obtain your written consent – on paper or through electronic means, including website forms, a telephone keypress – before it may make a prerecorded telemarketing call to your home or wireless phone number. FCC rules also require a caller to obtain your consent, oral or written, before it may make an autodialed or prerecorded call or text to your wireless number. There are exceptions to these rules, such as for emergencies involving danger to life or safety.
- What are the rules for telemarketers calling a wireline home phone?
Callers must have your prior express written consent before making telemarketing calls using a prerecorded or artificial voice. Telephone solicitation calls to your home are prohibited before 8 am or after 9 pm.
Telemarketers are no longer able to make telemarketing robocalls to your wireline home telephone based solely on an “established business relationship” that you may have established when purchasing something from a business or contacting the business to ask questions.
- Are robocalls to wireless phones prohibited?
A consumer’s written or oral consent is required for autodialed, prerecorded, or artificial voice calls or texts made to your wireless number, with a few exceptions such as emergency calls regarding danger to life or safety. Consent must be in writing for telemarketing robocalls. Telemarketers have never been permitted to make robocalls to your wireless phone based solely on an “established business relationship” with you.
- What types of autodialed calls are permitted under the FCC rules?
Not all robocalls are illegal. There are several factors to consider: the technology used to make the call, whether the call is to a landline or a mobile number, whether the content of the call is telemarketing, and whether the called number is on the National Do Not Call Registry.
Market research or polling calls to home wireline numbers are not restricted by FCC rules, nor are calls on behalf of tax-exempt non-profit groups. Informational messages such as school closings or flight information to your home phone are permissible without prior consent. The rules do require all prerecorded calls, including market research or polling calls, to identify the caller at the beginning of the message and include a contact phone number. Autodialed or prerecorded calls to wireless phones are prohibited without prior express consent, regardless of the call’s content, with a few exceptions such as emergency calls regarding danger to life or safety.
- What are the rules about robocalls releasing telephone lines?
Autodialers that deliver a prerecorded message must release the called party’s telephone line within five seconds of the time that the calling system receives notification that the called party’s line has hung up. In some areas, you could experience a delay before you can get a dial tone again. Your local telephone company can tell you if there is a delay in your area.
- Are any organizations or individuals exempt from the Do Not Call rules?
Yes. The Do Not Call rules only apply to telemarketing calls. So, the following types of calls are ones that don’t have to comply with do-not-call requests: tax-exempt, non-profit organizations; political organizations; pollsters and survey takers, not making sales calls; religious organizations; and telemarketers to whom you have given prior written consent to call you.
- Can I opt out of autodialed calls?
FCC rules require telemarketers to allow you to opt out of receiving additional telemarketing robocalls immediately during a prerecorded telemarketing call through an automated menu. The opt-out mechanism must be announced at the outset of the message and must be available throughout the duration of the call.
- Where should I file my unwanted call complaint?
Consumers can file complaints with the FCC by going to fcc.gov/complaints. You should choose the phone form and the unwanted calls issue for all complaints involving unwanted calls, including if your number is being spoofed, blocked, or labeled.
If you have a complaint about telephone fraud or telemarketers who have disregarded the Do Not Call list, we also encourage you to file a complaint with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
If the unwanted call is an IRS scam, we also encourage you to file your complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at www.tigta.gov or call 1-800-366-4484.
- What does the FCC do with consumer complaints?
We do not resolve individual unwanted call complaints but such complaints provide valuable information that the FCC uses to inform policy decisions and as the basis of potential enforcement actions against callers violating our rules under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (for most robocalls) or Truth in Caller ID Act. We may share your complaint with other agencies, such as the FTC, if we have shared jurisdiction over the alleged violation.
- How can schools get more information about compliance?
For schools who have questions about compliance with the Commission’s robocalls rules, please contact Richard.Smith@fcc.gov
Download the FCC Report on Robocalls (PDF).