Robocall is a phone call placed by an autodialer that automatically delivers a pre-recorded message. An autodialer is a computerized software that automatically dials a phone number. When someone or a company sends robocalls to sell fake products and services, it becomes illegal and can be termed a spam call. Robocalls have existed for many years in the business and political worlds. Businesses like the telemarketing and advertising industry have searched for less costly ways to meet potential consumers' needs.
Robocalls, since the time of discovery, have been easily accessible. Politicians use robocalling to reach out to residents on campaign days to earn their votes during elections in the United States. However, scammers also use illegal robocalls to rob their targets of personal information. The Rhode Island Department of the Attorney General regulates robocalls in Rhode Island.
What are Rhode Island Robocall Scams?
Robocall scams in Rhode Island are illegal activities executed to rob the victim of personal and financial information, as well as money, with the aid of automated calls. With robocalls, phone scammers efficiently target many people at a minimal cost and with little human effort. Reverse phone number search may help differentiate between a live call and a robocall.
Robocalls are not illegal in Rhode Island, but robocall scams are. This has become a continuous irritant that many state consumers are wary of when picking up phone calls. October recorded over 13 million robocalls placed in Rhode Island, where half of this record were scams. YouMail reported that residents coped better, with 12.5 calls per person, but the 13.1 million figure was the highest ever recorded in the state.
How are Robocalls Used in Rhode Island Scams?
These scammers often spoof robocalls and impersonate organizations or government agencies to rob consumers of their money when giving out spam calls. Fraudsters are aware that residents have become cautious and no longer answer calls from numbers they do not know. Gaining their trust by impersonation, 'spoofing’ becomes the only way to steal from them. The automated calls may be used to send fake messages instructing the victim to give personal information or press numbers to speak with live agents.
Sometimes, these targets are instructed to pay certain funds to avoid going to prison in the nearest future. A reverse phone lookup search application can help Rhode Island residents identify and avoid these phone scams.
Does Rhode Island Have Anti-Robocall Laws?
In Rhode Island, strong anti-robocall laws provide legal and important options for many robocall victims. Calls are strictly regulated under a federal law known as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), created in 1991. This federal act helps limit the use of auto-dialers and places restrictions on telemarketers. It also led to the implementation of the Do Not Call Registry in 2003. After implementing the TCPA, the Federal Communications Commission promulgated the first set of its telemarketing rules in 1992.
These rules also require identifying the individual or company responsible for calling and include a contact phone number at the start of the call, restricting calling hours to after 8 am or before 9 pm. Most robocall laws found in various states are closely knitted with the provisions found in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The civil lawsuit makes the difference between federal and state law. As to this regard, many states have adopted penalties against any telemarketer that may decide to break the law.
Some of the Anti-Robocall Principles that will be implemented into business practices are:
- Offer free call blocking and identification
- Communicate with State Attorneys General
- Confirm the identity of commercial customers
- Analyze and monitor network traffic
- Investigate suspicious calls and calling patterns
Obeying these principles does not give any party freedom from performing duty and complying with state or federal laws and regulations. Adherence to these principles may also take a while for the voice service providers to implement.
Are there Special Requirements for Robocalls in Rhode Island?
Legitimate robocalls have special requirements in Rhode Island. They exist so that residents can easily tell the difference between illegal and legitimate robocalls. These robocalls make use of automated dialing-announcing devices (ADADs) to enable fast and easy dial of phone numbers while sending pre-recorded messages at the same time.
Legitimate robocalls must fulfill the following requirements in Rhode Island:
- Phone call recipients must give detailed written permission before any robocall is placed to them.
- The robocall must expressly state the nature of the call and the identity of the service or person starting the call within its first few seconds.
- A robocall must send a message in only one language. No diversity of language is permitted on one recipient.
Some specific robocalls are exempted from observing these requirements. These robocalls are allowed to reach out to residents at any time of the day without live introductions. Some of them are:
- Calls from banks to communicate with their customers
- Calls from public environmental agencies to inform and alert residents in times of emergency
- Text messages from political agencies for election purposes
- Calls from hospital care providers for public health information
How Do I Stop Robocalls?
Residents of Rhode Island receive numerous robocalls daily. This can be intrusive and equally disturbing. Consumers and resident phone users must take some precautionary steps to reduce the number of scam calls reaching them. Some of these steps are stated below:
- Social Security and financial account information are private and should not be shared with any other party over the phone.
- Reject calls from unknown numbers or hang up once it is confirmed these calls are robocalls. Never be tempted to quickly carry out instructions sent during robocalls. Most robocalls give these instructions to identify live phone numbers for subsequent fraudulent activities.
- Block robocalls using built-in features on your phones or download a third-party call-blocking application such as Truecaller, Hiya, YouMail, and Nomorobo. They can be downloaded from any of the popular application stores.
- Pressing any number in a bid to end calls will most likely increase the number of robocalls received, alerting the scammers of an active number. Avoid ending calls with any number.
- Register your cell phone numbers and landlines on the Do Not Call Registry maintained by the Federal Trade Commission. Most phone scammers do not obey the registry rules, so enlisting your phone number gives you an upper hand at identifying these robocall scams.
- Report unwanted robocalls, and other scam calls with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by phone at 888-382-1222 or 877-382-4357, or file robocall complaints online.