A robocall is an automated telephone call that uses a computer program known as an auto-dialer to deliver a pre-recorded message to a target audience. Robocalls are used to deliver information quickly and at a cheaper rate than traditional calls. Telemarketers and a lot of businesses prefer robocalls because they require minimal human involvement.
In America, robocalls are a legitimate means of passing information to the public. Here is a list of legitimate uses of robocalls:
- Informational messages: Organizations use robocalls to pass certain information such as flight cancellations or reminders of appointments. These robocalls are legal as long as they are not trying to sell anything to the recipient.
- School notice: Schools use robocalls to inform parents or students about a change in the school calendar or cancellations of important school events.
- Medical calls: These are robocalls delivering medical information to an individual or a group. A typical example is a robocall from a pharmacy reminding you to refill a prescription.
- Political robocalls: In Alabama, political candidates can use robocalls to inform the public about their program and persuade them to perform their civil rights.
- Message from charities: Charity organizations use robocalls to reach a larger audience than the traditional telephone would.
However, some individuals abuse the technology to deliver unwanted and deceptive messages. Illegitimate businesses spoof their caller ID to trick a target into believing a call is from a legitimate organization. Residents who believe that they have been targeted by a fraudulent robocall should file and submit a complaint to the Office of the Attorney General (AAG). Alternatively, Individuals can use a reverse phone lookup tool to identify callers.
What are Alabama Robocall Scams?
Alabama robocall phone scams include all the fraudulent activities that are perpetrated in the state by scammers who impersonate legitimate telemarketers. These individuals use a pre-recorded script to sell a bogus product or service to unsuspecting individuals. Robocalls are not illegal in Alabama. However, they are unlawful when used to steal money or sensitive information from individuals in the state.
In Alabama, robocalls are strictly regulated by the Telephone Division, Alabama Public Service Commission (APSC). The APSC ensures that telemarketers comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TACPA), regulating all telemarketing and automated telephone systems, including robocalls. In October 2020, about 102.8 million robocalls calls were made in Alabama, and an average of 23.1 calls per person was recorded. Residents who believe they have been targeted by robocall scams should submit a complaint to the Office of the Attorney General.
How are Robocalls Used in Alabama Scams?
Robocalls can be used to steal money or information from innocent individuals. To achieve this, scammers use misleading pre-recorded scripts to make promises they are not ready to keep. Most times, they are after the target's personal information. As such, they ask the targets some questions or request that they press a button. This is only a means to find out phone numbers that are currently active in the local area.
Robocalls are also used to extort money from people, in which case, you are required to call a number the caller drops for you. This is intended to make you believe that the caller is from a legitimate organization with different workers. Generally, these robocalls ask you to pay for some service in advance or to pay some arrears that never existed. Individuals can contact a phone number lookup service provider or download a reverse phone number search tool.
Does Alabama Have Anti-Robocall Laws?
The Alabama Telemarketing Act (ATA) regulates all activities relating to telemarketing in the state. Robocalls are the most popular means telemarketers use to sell a product or idea to residents in the state. Telemarketers who use robocalls must comply with the ATA or face sanctions. Robocalls also fall under the regulatory purview of the Telephone Division of the APSC. The APSC has informed telemarketers about deploying the STIR/SHAKEN protocols to reinforce the fight against robocall scams in the state.
Are there Special Requirements for Robocalls in Alabama?
Robocalls have special requirements in the State of Alabama. Telemarketers can not make such calls except they meet the requirements outlined by the state. These requirements include:
- A commercial telephone seller must obtain a license from the State.
- A telemarketer can not place a call without the individual’s consent, except there is an existing relationship between the individual and the recipient.
- Calls can only be made between 9.00 am and 9.00 p.m. All telemarketing calls outside the stipulated time is illegal.
- All telephone solicitation must be done with transparency. Telemarketers must reveal their name and business information.
- A live agent must introduce the call before a pre-recorded message is played.
How Do I Stop Robocalls?
Residents of Alabama receive multiple robocalls every day. In 2018, a study showed that a total of 3.2million robocalls were made in the state every day. Robocalls are annoying, and individuals may lose so much by taking such calls. To stop robocalls, phone users can reduce the number of calls reaching them or learn how to manage such calls when they take them. Alabama robocalls can be stopped in the following ways:
- Register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry online or call 1 (888) 382-1222 with the phone number you wish to register. Alabama also has its own Do Not Call Register, and individuals who have registered on it before August 14, 2003, do not need to register to be included in the National list. Adding your phone number to the list makes it illegal for telemarketers to contact your phone number. This automatically reduces the number of unsolicited calls the person receives. It takes 31 days for the registered number to be updated.
- Ignore calls from unknown phone numbers. But if you take such calls, and the caller asks you to press a button to stop receiving calls or ask you to say something in response to a question he or she asked, hang up immediately. This is usually a trick to identify and then target respondents.
- Download and install a call-blocking or any third-party applications on your smartphone. These applications can identify who is calling and block robocalls. Some cell-blocking applications usually have robocalls where robocall numbers are saved, making it easier for them to identify such calls. Common third-party applications that have these features include Hiya, Nomorobo, and Truecaller.
- Download a reverse phone lookup app or contact a reverse phone number service provider. This service allows individuals to do a quick fact check on individuals that called them. It helps you identify the call’s true origin and whether it was a spoofed call or not. Configure your cell phone to receive calls from identified phone numbers alone.
- Caller ID showing a local number does not necessarily mean it is a local caller. Scammers spoof their caller ID to display your local area code. Spoofing a call ID to a familiar number that residents trust is a means of getting them to take their calls.
- Report robocalls to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) online. You can also contact these agencies by phone. The FTC is reachable on 1 (888) 382-1222, while the FCC’s telephone line is 1 (888) 225-5322.