You answer the phone and hear a prerecorded message instead of a live person—that’s a robocall, and depending on the content of the prerecorded message, it could even be illegal. Here’s the key: federal regulations permit robocalls for informational purposes (things like your flight is delayed or school is cancelled), but according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), prerecorded marketing or sales calls are generally illegal unless you’ve given written permission allowing the company to call you.
The FTC warns consumers that these sales and marketing robocalls are not only breaking the law, but they’re usually also scams. If you get a robocall that is trying to get you to buy goods or services, here’s what to do:
- Hang up. Don’t press any buttons or answer any questions. Many times, interacting in any way with an illegal robocall will simply lead to more calls—because you’ve proven to the bad guys that there is someone listening on the other end of the line.
- Consider taking advantage of call blocking features offered by your carrier, or by your phone itself. While certain third-party apps also offer call filtering features, keep in mind that for these apps to work, you may need to give them permission to see your call logs, contacts or other information you may not want to share. So, if you go that route, only use a reputable service after ensuring you completely understand their privacy policies.
- Register with the National Do Not Call List, verify your registration and report unwanted calls at DoNotCall.gov.
If you are a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska member who receives a robocall claiming to be us, hang up the phone immediately, take note of the number on your caller ID and let us know by calling the number on the back of your member ID card. Reporting these instances and details to us helps our security and fraud teams protect all our members.
For more information about robocalls and identifying phone scams, check out the resources offered by both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the FTC. Also view our previous article that dives deeper into health care phone scams.