If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it's a robocall. You probably receive robocalls during election season when candidates are running for office, or when charities are seeking donations. These robocalls are allowed. But if the recording is a sales message and you haven't given your written permission to receive calls from the company - this call is illegal.

Robocallers fake the caller ID information that you see on your phone. If you haven't learned about spoofing yet, visit our Spoofing Page. Sometimes the number shows up as unknown or 123456789. Other times, the number is a real one belonging to someone who has no idea their number is being misused. Robocallers often place their calls through internet technology that hides their location.

What should you do if you get a Robocall?

Hang up the phone

Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.

Contact your phone provider

Ask your provider to block the number, and whether they charge for this service. Remember, telemarketers change caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change. Report your experience to the online, or by calling 888-382-1222.

What pre-recorded calls are allowed?

Informational Messages

Messages that are purely informational, such as calls to let you know your flight’s been canceled, reminders about an appointment or messages about a delayed school opening. But the business calling isn’t allowed to promote the sale of any goods or services.

Debt Collectors

Pre-recorded messages from a business that is contacting you to collect a debt is also permitted, but messages offering to sell you services to reduce your debt are barred.

Other Exceptions

Other exceptions include political calls and calls from certain healthcare providers. For example, pharmacies are permitted to use pre-recorded messages to provide prescription refill reminders. You may also receive messages from banks, telephone carriers and charities.