No one enjoys answering their phone, and finding out the call is coming from an automated system trying to sell them products or other things. Junk faxes can also be an annoyance, especially if you are running a business. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was made for this reason. This helps consumers stop unwanted calls, texts, and faxes that they may be receiving. Although, there are laws in place to limit the number of robocalls or junk faxes any one person should receive, there is still the chance you could receive too many and may want to know how to stop them. The goal of this blog is to inform you of what robocalls and junk faxes are and how you can end them.
What are robocalls and junk faxes?
Robocalls and junk faxes are unsolicited and usually unwanted messages. In the case of robocalls they are usually
prerecorded telemarketing calls to landline telephones, and any prerecorded or autodialed call or text sent to mobile phones, emergency number, or patients rooms in health care facilities. The FCC has rules to limit the number of robocalls, but if prior consent is given, some may receive more calls than others. Also, these rules vary between mobile and landline phones.
Junk Faxes are like robocalls in that they are automated and unsolicited, but are usually in the form of advertisements. Junk faxes are usually not allowed under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Junk Fax Prevention Act. These faxes are usually sent out in bulk by business by professional fax broadcasters. Although the business may not have sent the faxes themselves, they are liable for any violations that might occur. The fax broadcaster may also be held at fault if they are found to have a high degree of involvement, meaning if they supply fax numbers, sources for numbers, or suggest ways to send the faxes that are in compliance with the junk fax rules, they may be the party found liable.
When are robocalls and junk faxes allowed?
According to the rules in place by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), for a business to send you robocalls they much get written consent- whether on paper, electronically, a keypress on the telephone- or by having your oral consent recorded. Once attained they will have the right to call your house phone, or they can call or text your mobile phone.
Polling calls and market research to a landline number is not restricted by the FCC, neither are calls from tax-exempt non-profit groups. They are required to have all prerecorded calls to clearly identify who they are and a phone number that you can contact them at. All other calls are strictly prohibited without prior consent.
FCC rules are similar for junk faxes. Prior to a business sending out faxes that are not specifically requested by a consumer, they must first get written consent from the individual that they are willing to receive other documents via fax. If they have not received consent, then they will not be allowed to send any “junk” faxes to that individual’s fax number.
What can I do to end them?
You have some options when it comes to stopping robocalls and junk faxes. It should be known that emergency and/or urgent messages, usually in regards to medical or fraud alerts, can be sent without consent, but must be free of charge and have an option to “stop” future messages. To end robocalls you can sign up to be part of a Do Not Call registry that will help protect against calls to both landlines and mobile phones. You can also download programs to smartphones that will allow you to block robocalls. These are legal, and the FCC encourages cellular providers to offer these to their consumers. If you receive a call, you can revoke their permission to call over the phone. A company that does business over the phone is not allowed to make a person fill out a written consent form and mail it in. Callers can misdial once, due to the potential of phone numbers swapping hands, but the telemarketers usually have resources they can use to see that a number has changed. Any automated calls must also include an option to opt out through an automated menu, which must be accessible at any time during the call. Take note of any robocalls that you block, or deny permission to, and report them to the FCC if they continue to call you.
In the case of junk faxes, you can take actions to opt out of future messages. Any fax that is an advertisement must have the contact information and a notice of how to opt out on the first page of the message. The contact information must be clear and easy to find and have a free option on how to submit the opt out request. These opt out options must be accessible to an individual at all times. When requesting the opt out, make sure the fax number is clearly identified to ensure they stop. The person or party sending the faxes will have thirty days to comply with your request.
How can the FCC help?
If you are still receiving calls or faxes after following the steps above, you can contact the FCC. They will not award you any damages, but they will issue warnings and fines against companies that are violating the law. This can help to prevent future calls to yourself and others. If contacting the FCC doesn’t help, you may want to seek out legal representation. Even with all the warnings and fines, some business will not stop their harassment, and if you have followed the proper steps, you shouldn’t have to suffer anymore. Seek out a qualified attorney who has handled robocall and junk fax cases before, and they will be able to lead you in the right direction on how to have the calls and faxes stop, and potential pay you damages.