- Register your telephone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Print a copy of California’s form for recording such calls [pdf] (even though you are not in California).
- Keep the form handy and when a call occurs collect the appropriate information. Of particular importance: what number do they want you to call? How are you supposed to contact them? The number shown by Caller ID is probably spoofed.
- Report the telemarketing call to the National Do Not Call Registry using its complaint form.
See the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Unwanted Telephone Marketing Calls Guide. You can open a complaint with the FCC and with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You are strongly encouraged to open a complaint at least once, particularly if you are contacted on a cell or mobile phone.
Regarding Mobile Phones
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) provides a minimum $500 penalty per violation for illegal calls to mobile phones. This law provides rights to people who are receiving robo calls to their cell phone without permission. Under the TCPA, it s a violation for a company to call:
- with an automated dialing system;
- to a cell phone
- without the express authorization of the owner of that phone.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) [pdf] provides (47 U.S.C. Section 227(b)(1)):
It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, or any person outside the United States if the recipient is within the United States — (A) to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice …. (iii) to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call[.]
Each call or text is a violation. The penalty can be tripled up to $1,500 per violation if the violations are found to be willful. A plaintiff can also get a court order stopping the caller from future violations of the TCPA.
Who called me?
Use 800forall.com (see top right corner), fonefinder.net, tnid.us or SearchBug to determine who owns the phone number. Consolidated Search Engines such as izito.com, carrot2.org, or iseek.com may reveal if someone has advertised the phone number online.
An independent project (Mr Number) looks interesting. “Mr. Number is an Android app that lets you block calls and texts from people that you don’t want to hear from again and provides Caller ID for millions of US phone numbers.”
Be skeptical of information posted on “who called me from” sites. Posts to “who called me from” sites are easy to make. Posts to “who called me from” sites give the false sense that you have participated in ending phone abuse. Posts to “who called me from” sites are not moderated. People report the Caller ID that was displayed. Fraudulent calls almost always spoof the caller’s originating telephone number. Complaints about the spoofed number can make a legitimate person or business a victim. By posting to a “who called me from” site you may be participating in the phone abuse by reporting the Caller ID that was displayed.
The number you are asked to call, on the other hand, is very useful in stopping fraud IF it is reported to appropriate authorities.