Key Things You Need to Know About Political Robocalls
When most people think of robocalls, they tend to think of illegal scams and tiresome telemarketing calls. While this mental connection is understandable, robocalls are a much wider term, with other kinds of perfectly legal robocalls serving useful purposes.
One type of legal robocalls is a political robocall—here is everything you need to know about them.
What Are Political Robocalls?
Political robocalls are a type of robocalls made on behalf of a political candidate or party. They are used for various purposes, from reaching out to supporters more quickly to ensuring a better turnout at political events and rallies.
Due to the unpleasant ubiquity of scam and telemarketing calls, robocalls are a heavily regulated type of communication in the U.S. If you would like to broadcast a political robocall, you will have to abide by strict federal and—in some cases—state rules.
According to the FCC, pre-recorded and auto-dialed voice calls related to political campaigns are not allowed to:
- Call cell phones, pagers, or other mobile devices without obtaining the consent of the call recipient first
- Call protected phone lines (like emergency or toll-free lines, or lines serving institutions such as hospitals), unless obtaining written consent from the called party beforehand
Political robocalls are allowed to landline telephones, even if the callers behind the political robocalls don’t have written permission of the landline owner to call them in such a manner.
What About Political Texts?
Robotexts are text messages that have been created through autodialing. Technically, robotexts are considered a type of call, so all the robocall rules also apply to robotexts. Seeing that robotexts get sent to mobile phones, they also require upfront permission from the text recipient.
What Does a Political Robocall Message Need to Contain?
All political robocalls must follow two obligatory requirements:
- the identity of the business, individual, or other entity that’s behind the call has to be clearly and fully stated at the beginning of the call
- the caller’s telephone number and address have to be given either during or after the message
In other words, it is essential to present the candidate on whose behalf the call is being made. It’s just as important to provide contact information so that they can be reached by voters and other members of the audience.
A word to the wise—certain states put restrictions on robocalls that openly advocate for or against a particular state/local candidate. Make sure you check your state’s laws on robocalls to learn about any particular regulations that might pertain to you.
Consider a Political Robocall Campaign if…
If you are a political candidate or a party representative (or working for one), you should consider robocalls for quickly and cost-effectively delivering the message to a large audience of your existing and prospective voters and supporters. Don’t forget that you can only reach them on their landline telephones—cell phones are allowed only if you obtained prior permission.
Political robocalls can help you to:
- Establish efficient communication with your supporters
- Get better turnout at your events
- React more efficiently when time is essential
Establish Efficient Communication With Your Supporters
You can reach out to your supporters for many reasons, be it to request a campaign donation or ask them to volunteer at an event. You could also remind them about the upcoming elections and their legal right to vote. By reaching out to your voters and supporters, you’re inviting them to be a part of your success story and the overall advancement of your town, county, state, and nation.
Get Better Turnout at Your Events
You can advertise your upcoming political events and rallies through robocalls. Even better, by using an interactive robocall system, you can ask the recipients of the call to confirm their attendance by pressing a key, which will also give you a much better idea of the expected turnout. It has been reported that Hillary Clinton’s Iowa rallies were such a great success partly due to her campaign’s clever use of robocalls.
React More Efficiently When Time Is Essential
Robocalls reminding your (prospective and current) voters and supporters of the key points of your political credo and strategy a few days before election day can swing the odds in your favor. Even if elections aren’t on the close horizon, robocalls can be an efficient political tool in times of emergencies such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and the like. With the help of robocalls, it’s easier to mobilize volunteers on the ground, arrange emergency evacuations or another type of catastrophe relief, and more.
Breakdown of Legal vs. Illegal Robocalls
Illegal robocalls not only present a painful nuisance to the American consumer, but they can also result in serious financial damage to the scammed person. There are only two types of illegal robocalls that are giving the rest a bad name. Refer to the table below for more information about which robocalls are legal and which are not.
Type of Robocall
Informational robocalls (e.g. appointment reminders)
|Public service announcements|
Debt collection agency robocalls
|Telemarketing calls to which you’ve agreed in writing|
Telemarketing calls to which you never agreed in writing
What to Do if You Get an Illegal Robocall
Suing may not be an option for every illegal robocall you receive, but there are plenty of other ways to fight back. Here is what you should and should not do if you receive an illegal robocall (or suspect that you’re dealing with one).
If you enlisted your number in the Do Not Call Registry, this doesn’t automatically mean all robocalls will be rejected from your phone line. A number of them (like political and charity robocalls) are perfectly legal—such entities can contact you regardless of your Registry listing. Learn more about who is exempt from this rule in our post on the Do Not Call exceptions.
How to Block Illegal Robocalls
You might find that the Do Not Call Registry is effective against unsolicited telemarketing calls but may be less so with scammers that don’t particularly care about abiding laws or following the rules. Thankfully, there are things you can do to stave them off—we’ve written a detailed article on how to stop robocalls to help you keep this pestilence at bay.
The FCC is putting increasing pressure on telephone carriers in the U.S. to curb the robocall epidemic. As a most significant leap in their efforts, the companies have committed to using the SHAKEN/STIR approach (also referred to as STIR/SHAKEN). SHAKEN stands for Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs, while STIR means Secure Telephony Identity Revisited. The lengthy acronym indicates a system of frameworks that uses digital certificates and common public key cryptography to block spam calls and detect call spoofing.
This suite of different protocols and procedures enables phone companies to verify that the incoming call is legitimate and that its number hasn’t been spoofed. If the incoming call has been labeled as spam or spam-likely, the carrier can cut it off on a network level and prevent it from reaching the user. Alternatively, the call may go through, but it will be labeled as a potential spam call.
Why Are Robocall Scam Schemes so Common
Today, when their phone rings, most people will not pick up if they don’t recognize the number. They’ve been burned or, at the very least, bothered by illegal robocalls too many times. Answering the phone, especially if the number isn’t familiar to you, can feel like a hazard.
USA Today has estimated that it takes a single “successful” scam robocall out of 100,000 of them for the whole operation to become financially rewarding for the scammers. Scammers use VoIP technology that allows them to call individuals over the Internet at a low cost, combined with a robo dialer type of software that enables them to place thousands of robocalls simultaneously. The fact that they can hide their true identity and target victims in other countries often means that they get away with breaking the law.
It’s no surprise that in the past few years, the FTC has been showered with consumer complaints about illegal robocalls. As a part of its response, the organization continues to collaborate with other law enforcement agencies and coordinate industry efforts in the battle against call spoofing and illegal robocalls.
Learn How to Recognize a Scam Call
Scammers’ schemes are getting more elaborate, which can make it more difficult for some people to see through these dishonest attempts.
Being able to recognize some common characteristics and schemes of scam robocalls is crucial. If you can’t tell with absolute certainty if a call is legitimate or not, it’s always safer to hang up than to compromise your money and the safety of your personal information.
Scammers tend to:
- Act as employees or representatives of well-known businesses or organizations
- Ask you to wire funds or provide your financial details
- Switch from a robocall to a live operator
Act as Employees or Representatives of Well-Known Businesses or Organizations
Scammers can trick you by telling you they’re calling from an institution or firm you’re probably well-acquainted with, such as your bank, your insurance provider, the Social Security Administration, etc. They may even spoof their number, so it looks like it’s coming from said organization.
If it’s a robocall, hang up right away. If you’re immediately approached by a human operator and are in doubt about the legitimacy of the caller, ask them to verify their identity. For example, if you’ve received a call from someone claiming they’re from Google, ask them to send you an email address from their official work email. If the email address doesn’t end in @google.com, you know you’re dealing with a shady person.
Ask You to Wire Funds or Provide Your Financial Details
No legitimate and trustworthy organization will request your personal or financial information through a robocall. They are aware this is sensitive information that needs to be shared in a controlled and safe manner, which automated and pre-recorded calls are not.
Don’t fall for the story of how there’s been an unexpected problem involving you or your business account and the authorities, which can only be “solved” if you immediately wire funds. Legitimate government institutions will never threaten you with legal action against you “unless you quickly transfer a large sum of money to their account.”
Switch From a Robocall to a Live Operator
If, during the robocall, you press the key which the automated message tells you to, the scammers might use this as an opportunity to “reel you in” and connect to a live operator. This may lead to someone on the other line trying to drain as much money as they can from your bank accounts or get as much personal information out of you as possible.
Are You Eligible for a Robocall Settlement?
If you were the victim of an illegal robocall, you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission through an online form. Include the information about the caller ID, as well as any other relevant information pertaining to the call.
If you’ve decided to file a lawsuit or request compensation from the individuals responsible for the illegal robocall, one solution is to reach out to a law firm specializing in consumer protection matters. Still, it’s likely that you will not know who the individual or company behind the call is. This is when DoNotPay comes into play with our revolutionary Robo Revenge feature.
Retaliate on Illegal Robocalls With DoNotPay
DoNotPay’s latest feature—Robo Revenge—is built around a single premise—make the scammers pay for the damage they have caused.
DoNotPay will generate a fake credit card number using a free virtual credit card, which you can use when the callers ask for your payment information. When they attempt to pull money out of your account, they will realize it’s a void card only when it’s too late. By then, they will have already revealed their information to the card’s owner—that is, DoNotPay. The joke is on them!
To kick start the process of taking revenge on the scammers, you should do the following:
- Answer the incoming call you suspect might be an illegal robocall
- You may be asked to give your payment info right away or transferred to a live operator
- Open the DoNotPay website in your web browser or iOS device
- Tap or click on the Robo Revenge option
- Select the Create Your Card icon. This will create DoNotPay’s virtual credit card with a temporary credit card number
- Give the fake card number to the scammers
- Expect the scammers to try a transaction using the virtual card number you provided
- DoNotPay will reveal the scammers’ information and share them with you
- If you want us to, we will create a compensation request on your behalf to the scammers—you may be eligible to get up to $3,000!
At the moment, Robo Revenge works only on scam operations running in the U.S. Illegal robocalls that are coming from abroad can’t be sanctioned in the U.S. because they don’t fall under American federal or state jurisdiction.
Ticking Things Off With DoNotPay
Is your to-do list growing longer and longer, while your wallet somehow appears to be getting lighter than ever? In that case, we can help. DoNotPay is an AI-fueled application designed to create efficiencies and find hidden money in your life. You can access it via a web browser or your iOS device.
DoNotPay can give a helping hand with:
- Managing bills you cannot cover
- Managing credit card issues
- Canceling subscriptions or memberships
- Reducing the waiting time when calling customer service
- Fighting traffic tickets
- Getting refunds for delayed or canceled flights
- Disputing speeding tickets
- Suing people and companies in small claims court
- Tracking down scammers behind illegal robocalls
- Challenging parking tickets
- Scheduling DMV appointments quickly