Is it November 8th yet?
It’s safe to say the 2016 election cycle has been one-of-a-kind. In the mad dash for your vote, many political campaigns and organizations are resorting to annoying robocalls to give their campaign an edge. During the 2016 campaign, American voters have been bombarded by billions of unsolicited and unwanted calls. Traditionally, people receive these calls on their landline phones, but the number of political robocalls and text messages to mobile phones are on the rise this election year – especially with more and more people abandoning the cords and going mobile only.
So why is this allowed? Unfortunately, election robocalls are exempt from Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations and the National Do Not Call Registry, which protect consumers from telemarketers and fraudulent debt collection practices. However, there are other laws in place to protect consumers against election robocalls.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was established in 1991, which is regulated by The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), restricts automated text messages from being sent to wireless devices as well as prohibits pre-recorded calls to cell phones, except those made with express consent for emergency purposes. This prohibits political parties, non-profits, etc. from making robocalls to your mobile phone numbers without your consent. The FCC does permit these robocalls on residential landlines.
If they have your mobile number and you did provide consent (perhaps unknowingly) they still must, 1) use pre-recorded messages to identify who is initiating the calls and 2) include a telephone number or address to reach the caller.
These laws are clear, but they get a bit murkier at the state level. For instance, many states require the entity paying for the call be disclosed.
If you feel that you have received automated calls and text messages to your phone illegally, file a complaint online or over the phone with the FTC right away. You can also file a complaint directly from PrivacyStar, which identifies known robocallers and scammers for free – download the app here.