What are robocalls, and why should I care?

A robocall is a phone call that uses a computerized autodialer to deliver a pre-recorded message, usually to sell or market services of some kind. Robocalls are usually associated with charities, telemarketing or political phone campaigns, but can also be used for emergency or public service announcements. These informational calls can be helpful to both companies and consumers, but unfortunately many other robocalls are both useless and illegal in the United States.

As the FTC explains, “if the recording is a sales message and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal.”

In recent years, the government has seen a significant increase in the number of illegal robocall complaints because our beloved modern technology has made it cheap and simple for scammers to make thousands of calls every day, from anywhere in the world. These companies and individuals usually display fake caller ID information that not only hides their identity from those receiving the call, but from law enforcement as well. This is known as caller ID spoofing — and internet powered phone systems make it very easy to do. In some cases, the fraudulent telemarketer disguises themselves in a way that fools you into thinking the call is from some entity you’ve done business with before. The telephone number may also simply show up as “unknown” or “123456789”.

How Google is fighting back

Since the beginning of 2015, Google administrators have received hundreds of complaints about robocalls they’ve received from businesses claiming to be associated with Google.

As a leading SEO company in Costa Mesa, we have heard complaints from multiple clients who have panicked after receiving these misleading calls. The recording will say something to the effect of “There is something wrong with your Google Map listing. Urgent action is required – press 1 to speak with a representative immediately“. Small business owners have been targeted by robocallers for many years with misleading promotional offers for improving search engine optimization, and more specifically to improve their Google My Business profile.

If you receive a call from a company who is representing themselves as Google, you can report the incident directly to Google here.

Unfortunately, robocallers impersonate various other companies as well, and have even impersonated local police, the IRS, and the FTC itself. The FTC gets approximately 150,000 complaints about illegal calls each month, and to date has brought more than 100 lawsuits against more than 600 companies and individuals responsible for billions of illegal robocalls and other Do Not Call violations.

What can I do to prevent robocalls?

  • Report callers to the FTC or the FCC. If the calls continue, file a formal complaint.
  • Hang up the phone. Do not press any key that the voice recording may prompt you to. Pressing 1 to talk when prompted will add your number to a “hot list”, transferring you to a telemarketer or internet marketing company waiting to give you a pitch. Even if you hang up before the call is completed, you are more likely to receive more future calls just because of your initial response.
  • Contact your phone company to see if they can block calls from any numbers. Make sure to ask if your provider charges for that service. Telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it may not be worth paying an additional fee to block one specific number that will most likely change if the scammers call back again.
  • Register your personal number with the National Do Not Call Registry by calling 1-888-382-1222.

SearchOwls is a well-respected SEO Company in Costa Mesa, and we never have and never will make unsolicited calls to our clients and customers!