What is a Texas Robocall?
A robocall is an automated phone call placed by an auto dialer to deliver a pre-recorded message. Robocalls are most commonly associated with telemarketing and political campaigns but are also used in phone scams. Some robocalls are spam calls that attempt to sell fake products and services. The primary intention of these calls is to extort phone users.
Out of the nearly 59 billion robocalls placed across the United States in 2019, Texas recorded 6.64 billion. It was the most-hit state by robocalls in that year.Texas robocalls are unsolicited telephone calls and their use is regulated by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas. The subchapter F of the Texas Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURA) articulates the rules governing the use of robocalls in the state.
What are Texas Robocall Scams?
Robocall scams in Texas are fraudulent activities aimed at stealing Texans' money as well as their private and financial information using automated calls. Phone scammers use robocalls because they can target a lot more people with little or no human effort and at minimal cost. Reverse phone number search can help differentiate a robocall from a live call. In 2019, Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an initiative, in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to start a crackdown on illegal robocalls. This initiative, called “Operation Call it Quits,” would include almost 100 actions that target robocall operations countrywide.
How are Robocalls Used in Texas Scams?
Phone scammers often mask their identities by displaying fake caller ID information when employing robocalls. This is also known as caller ID spoofing. These fraudsters take up the caller IDs of government agencies or familiar organizations and pretend to be their employees. The calls are automated and will instruct recipients to press certain keys to speak with live agents or reel out phone numbers for them to call back. Texas robocall scams are employed to steal money and information from Texans. A reverse phone lookup application can help you identify robocalls and avoid phone scams. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also provides information on caller ID spoofing and how to avoid them.
Does Texas Have Anti-Robocall Laws?
Robocalls are the largest consumer complaints to the FCC every year. These calls are unwanted and usually spoofed. The House Bill 1992, sponsored by Rep. Ben Leman on February 19, 2019, prohibits caller ID spoofing by telemarketers and other business entities. The bill aims to prevent telemarketers from using predatory tricks by forbidding them from falsifying the origins of their calls.
Texas House gave this bill final approval on May 09, 2019, and forwarded it to the Senate. The first reading on the floor of the Senate was on May 13, 2019. After passing the third reading on May 22, 2019, it was returned to Texas House. Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill on June 15, 2019, and it became effective on September 01, 2019.
A number of anti-robocall principles also exist in Texas. These principles are the result of an agreement between state Attorneys General and some telephone service providers. The engagement sought to stop illegal and unwanted robocalls. Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, was part of that agreement. Phone service providers committed to incorporate the following eight anti-robocall principles into their business practices:
- Offer free call blocking and labeling services to subscribers
- Implement STIR/SHAKEN
- Analyze and monitor network traffic
- Investigate suspicious calls and calling patterns
- Confirm the identities of commercial customers
- Require traceback cooperation in contracts
- Cooperate in traceback investigations
- Communicate with State Attorneys General
Are there Special Requirements for Robocalls in Texas?
Yes. Robocalls must satisfy a number of requirements in Texas to qualify as legitimate. These provisions exist so that Texans can differentiate between legitimate and illegal robocalls, especially as the government tries to combat robocall scams. Robocalls use Automatic Dial Announcing Devices (ADADs) to send out unsolicited recorded messages. The special requirements for robocalls in Texas include:
- Robocalls must not dial numbers randomly.
- A robocall must clearly state the nature of the call and the identity of the business or person initiating the call within its first 30 seconds.
- A robocall must deliver its message in a single language.
- Robocalls must not be placed before noon or after 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday. Also, robocalls before 9:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. on a weekday and Saturdays are illegal.
However, certain types of robocalls are exempted from some of these provisions. These include:
- Calls by secondary schools to locate or account for truant students.
- Calls by organizations to their members.
- Calls by municipalities or appointed persons to disseminate information to residents regarding public safety and health.
How Do I Stop Robocalls?
Robocalls are not synonymous with scams as generally perceived by many. They are, however, annoying and equally intrusive. While there are legitimate uses of robocalls, scammers prey on residents using them to obtain sensitive information for financial and identity thefts. It is, therefore, essential that Texans take some measures to curb robocalls. Reverse phone number lookup can help phone users identify robocalls and avoid becoming falling victims of robocall scams.
Take the following steps to stop robocalls from dishonest telemarketers:
- Register your number in the National Do Not Call Registry developed by the FTC to stop robocalls. Although scammers do not follow the rules of the registry, enlisting your number can help you identify robocall scams. You can sign up by dialing 1 (888) 382-1222 from any phone number you want to add to the list. Alternatively, join the statewide Texas No Call Lists online. To register by mail, send a completed registration form to:
TEXAS NO CALL
100 Summer Street Suite 800
Boston, MA 02110
- Decline calls from unknown numbers. This is the most reliable way of avoiding phone scams. However, if you answer a call and realize it is delivering a pre-recorded message, hang up immediately.
- Report unwanted calls to the appropriate agencies. You can file robocall complaints online with the FTC or call 1 (888) 382-1222. If you get a spoofed robocall, report it to the FCC. Texans can also contact their local law enforcement offices to report unwanted calls.
- Block robocalls using built-in call-blocking features on your cell phone. Android phones and iPhones have these features. Alternatively, various third-party applications offer call-blocking services for free. Some of them are Hiya, Nomorobo, Truecaller, and YouMail.
How Can I Block Robocall Numbers on Android Phones?
These steps required differ depending on the device and the version of the Android operating system running it. Generally, you will have to open the phone app and move to your call history. Select the robocall number and find an option that says “block or report as spam”. Finally, confirm your intention by responding to a message asking if you want to block the phone number.
How Can I Block Robocall Numbers on iPhones?
Open your phone app and select recent calls. Select the info icon beside the robocall number and tap “block this number”.