A robocall is an automated telephone call that delivers a pre-recorded message or refers the recipient to speak with a live agent by either pressing specific numbers during the call or reaching out to them after the call. Typically, robocalls can deliver messages to several persons at a minimal price and with little human involvement. Robocalls have legitimate uses as government agencies use them to disseminate information to state residents. Reputable organizations use robocalls to reach out to consumers that have given their consent to be contacted. Authorized robocalls also include calls from telemarketing companies or political parties during campaigns.
Fraudsters take advantage of robocalls and use them to carry out their ploys and criminal schemes by advertising fake or non-existent products and services or misleading their call recipients to disclose personal information to them. Where the initiator of a robocall does not seek the recipient’s consent before placing the call, the robocall is considered a spam call.
What Are Missouri Robocall Scams?
Missouri robocall phone scams involve the use of robocalls to defraud, steal personal and financial information, and harm Missourians. Some persons also use robocalls to play pranks on unsuspecting residents. Although not all these pranks have malicious intentions, some of them may escalate to serious harassment and even cause bodily harm to the victim. Pranksters may sometimes spoof the robocalls and make them appear to be emergency numbers; after which they disseminate false information, such as calling a bomb or fire alert. Persons that suspect that a call is a robocall can use a reverse phone number search to verify if the call is a robocall or a live call.
Missouri was among the states with the least robocalls rates in the United States in 2019 as the state registered 1107 robocalls per 100,000 residents.
How Are Robocalls Used in Missouri Scams?
Fraudsters use spoofed robocalls to mask their identities and take on the identities of government agencies and reputable organizations. These fraudsters use mostly phone spoofing services to imitate numbers that the recipients are familiar with. During calls, the recipients are directed to press certain numbers to speak with live agents or contact these live-agents after the call by dialing the phone number given to them during the call. Such robocalls have malicious intentions and are used to defraud, cause harm, and steal valuables and personal information from unsuspecting persons.
An unsolicited robocall that tries to convince the recipient to make payment for a product or service is also illegal, except if the recipient has given express written consent to be contacted. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides information on Caller ID spoofing and how to avoid them.
Does Missouri Have Anti-Robocall Laws?
Missouri does not have any specific laws that prohibit robocalls. However, robocalls placed without the recipient’s consent are referred to as unsolicited calls, and the Missouri Telemarketing Act prohibits this. Persons that initiate robocalls must obtain the recipient’s permission before sending the call and must not place calls to numbers registered on the state No-Call list. Robocalls for fraudulent reasons are also strongly prohibited by this law.
The state has certain anti-robocall principles, which originates from an agreement between State Attorneys General and telephone service providers to stop illegal and unwanted robocalls. Based on this agreement, phone service providers are required 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 Missouri?
Missouri has special requirements for robocalls that are regulated by the Missouri Attorney General’s Civil Division. The Division mandates that telemarketers and telemarketing companies adhere to the requirements listed below as a violation is considered illegal and a potential scam. Missourians can use reverse phone number search to distinguish a robocall from a real call. The requirements for robocalls in Missouri include:
- The recipient’s express consent must be obtained as telemarketers are not allowed to send robocalls to individuals randomly.
- A robocall must not be sent to a number on the Missouri No-Call list, or the National Do Not Call Registry, as this is considered unlawful and a violation.
- Persons that have consented to receive robocalls can only be contacted between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Missouri local time. Robocalls sent outside these hours are considered illegal unless the recipient gives express written or oral authorization to be contacted at any time.
- The robocall must clearly state the reason for the call, the name of the organization the call represents, and the product or service for sale.
How Do I Stop Robocalls?
Missourians often receive unsolicited robocalls, and although not all of these calls have fraudulent intentions, they can be quite annoying and disturbing. Scammers also exploit robocalls to defraud or steal money or personal financial information from unsuspecting residents. Hence, Missourians need to take practical steps to restrict robocalls in order to avoid falling victim to these scams. Individuals may use the reverse phone number lookup to identify robocalls and avoid falling to scams associated with such robocalls:
Take the following steps to avoid robocalls from scammers:
- Register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or call 1 (888) 382-1222 to restrict robocalls. Missourians may register without any fee, and the registered number remains on the registry until the owner of the number demands its removal. However, it takes 31 days for a registered number to be updated on the National Do Not Call Registry. Missourians may also register on Missouri No Call List.
- Report suspicious or non-compliant robocalls online by filing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission or the Federal Trade Commission to report any. Residents can also call the FTC on 1 (888) 382-1222 or the FCC on 1 (888) 225-5322.
- Refrain from answering calls from unknown numbers. You may also hang up as soon as you discern that the call delivers a pre-recorded message or the caller requests for personal information.
- Block robocalls by using built-in call-blocking features or third-party mobile applications on your cell phone. Android phones and iPhones have features that enable you to block unwanted calls. You can also get free third-party mobile applications like Truecaller, Hiya, Nomorobo, and YouMail on the Google play store or Apple play store, for Android and iPhones, respectively.