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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > August 2018 > Learn About Unlawful Robocalls

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Learn About Unlawful Robocalls

It can be frustrating to answer the phone and hear an automated telemarketing message, especially when your phone number is on the national Do Not Call Registry. Learning more about robocalls is the first step to controlling unwanted calls.

Generally, a robocall occurs when you hear an automated message instead of a live person when you answer your telephone. While there are some exceptions – such as calls from charities or political organizations – if you receive a call that is an automated message and you haven’t given your written permission, that call may be illegal or part a scam. Even businesses with which you have a relationship are generally barred from making sales robocalls to your landline telephone unless you have given your written permission.

You may wonder why we are getting so many robocalls these days. As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains: “Technology is the answer. Companies are using autodialers that can send out thousands of calls every minute for an incredibly low cost. The companies that use this technology don’t bother to screen for numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry.” 

Unfortunately, finding out where an illegal robocall is coming from can be difficult. Many robocalls are made using internet technology that hides the caller’s actual location. Scammers may use “spoofing” technology to trick your caller ID so that what appears to be a local call may be coming from across the country or around the world. For instance, calls from another country may appear to be coming from your own area code and even your own three-digit exchange. This is called “neighbor spoofing.” Scammers use neighbor spoofing to increase the chances that you will answer the phone call.

Often, the best way to handle unwanted robocalls is to ignore them. Although it may be tempting to answer the calls or to press a key (supposedly to speak to a live operator or to be removed from the calling list), responding usually won’t reduce the number of calls you receive. Instead, you may find yourself receiving even more calls once the caller knows they’ve reached a “live” phone number. If a call is important, the caller likely will leave a message.

Certain apps and other services can help stop robocalls calls from reaching you in the first place. The FTC recently announced an initiative to release the “robocall” phone numbers that consumers report to help companies that are attempting to block the illegal calls. Consumers’ reports also assist law enforcement in efforts to find the perpetrators and help stop these unwanted calls.

If you receive illegal robocalls from a company that fails to identify itself, report those calls to the FTC at

If you need help, or if you want to report a suspected scam or unfair business practice to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, visit  or call 800-282-0515.