A robocall is a telephone call auto-dialed and structured to deliver a prerecorded message. These calls may sometimes contain messages that direct the recipients to follow certain instructions to talk to a live agent. Government agencies use robocalls to make public service announcements. Some robocalls are sent on behalf of authorized telemarketing companies or political parties during campaigns. Unfortunately, not all robocalls are legitimate as fraudsters take advantage of these calls and use them to perpetrate their criminal intents by selling counterfeit products and services or causing the recipient to disclose personal information. Unsolicited robocalls can be classified as spam calls.
Robocalls aim to deliver messages swiftly and at a cheap rate with little human involvement. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office regulates robocalls in the state, as these calls fall under the category of unsolicited communications.
What Are Indiana Robocall Scams?
Indiana robocall scams are perpetrated by fraudsters that aim to defraud, extort, and steal personal and financial information from unsuspecting persons. Robocall scams also include robocalls that are created to play harmful pranks on their targets or disseminate false information. If a person suspects that a call is from an auto-dialer, they can use the reverse phone number search to determine if the call is a robocall or a live call.
In 2019, Indiana was among the states with the least rates of robocalls in the United States. This is not to say that robocalling was utterly absent in the state as Indiana recorded 972 robocalls per 100,000 residents.
How Are Robocalls Used in Indiana Scams?
Fraudulent persons sometimes use phone spoofing services to conceal their true identities and impersonate government agencies and legitimate business employees during robocalls. Some robocalls direct recipients to press certain numbers to speak with a live agent or reach out to these live-agents themselves after the call by calling the number given to them during the call. Spoofed robocalls use numbers that the recipient is familiar with to gain their trust and prevent them from suspecting any foul play when answering the call. Such robocalls are used to deceive unsuspecting persons to make them disclose certain personal or financial information.
A robocall scam may also occur in the form of an unsolicited automated call that tries to convince the recipient to purchase a product or service over the phone. This type of call is illegal, except where the recipient has given express written consent to receive the call. Individuals can use a reverse phone lookup application to identify robocalls and avoid phone scams. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offers information on Caller ID spoofing and how to avoid them.
Does Indiana Have Anti-Robocall Laws?
Indiana legislature enacted its Telephone Privacy Law in 2002, developing a statewide Do Not Call Registry to collate phone numbers and stop telemarketers from contacting consumers with unwanted robocalls. The Telephone Privacy Law was enacted one year before the Federal Trade Commission established the National Do Not Call Registry. The law aims to protect Hoosiers from deceptive and predatory business practices perpetrated by fraudsters pretending to be telemarketers. Signing up on the state’s Do-Not-Call Registry helps protect users from such phone scams.
Furthermore, Indiana law prohibits these unsolicited robocalls and mandates that a live phone operator obtains permission before playing a pre-recorded message through a robocall. Persons who receive calls suspected to be robocalls may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office even if their numbers are not on the Do Not Call list.
The Indiana Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division also enforces the state's Do Not Fax law, which prohibits sending unsolicited advertisements to fax machines, including residential and business fax numbers. As opposed to the Do Not Call law, the Do Not Fax law does not require individuals to register their fax numbers. The law applies to every fax number in the state.
Indiana has some anti-robocall principles, which stems from an agreement between State Attorneys General and 12 telephone service providers to stop illegal and unwanted robocalls. Curtis Hill, Indiana’s Attorney General, was part of that agreement. Phone service providers are obligated 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
Other laws that pertain to robocalls include Regulation of Automatic Dialing Machines (IC 24-5-14), also known as the Autodialer law, and False and Misleading Caller Identification Act (IC 24-5-14.5).
Are There Special Requirements for Robocalls in Indiana?
Indiana has special requirements for robocalls regulated by the Indiana Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. The Divison mandates that telemarketers and other legitimate agencies adhere to these requirements, as failure to do this is considered illegal and a possible scam call. Hoosiers can use a reverse phone number search to distinguish a robocall from a real call. The requirements for robocalls in Indiana include:
- Express written consent (written or electronic signatures) from the recipient before a robocall is placed to them.
- Robocalls must not be dialed numbers randomly.
- A robocall must not contact a number on Indiana Do Not Call List or the National Do Not Call Registry, as this is considered illegal and a violation.
- Robocalls can only be placed between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Indiana local time. Robocalls that are placed outside these hours are considered illegal unless the recipient gives prior consent to be contacted at any time.
- The caller must clearly reveal the reason for the call, the name of the business the call represents, and the product or service for sale.
Despite the restriction placed on robocalls, some robocalls are permitted. Exceptions to the state robocall law include robocalls from:
- School districts to students, parents, or employees.
- Callers with whom the recipient has an existing business or personal relationship.
- Entities advising employees of work schedules.
- Persons that the recipient knowingly or voluntarily requested, consented to, permitted, or authorized. This also includes calls preceded by a live operator who obtains the recipient’s consent before the message is delivered.
How Do I Stop Robocalls?
Hoosiers receive robocalls regularly; although not all robocalls have fraudulent intentions, these calls can be quite frustrating and disturbing. Fraudsters also misuse robocalls by scamming people and stealing valuables or personal financial information from unsuspecting residents. Therefore, it is important that Hoosiers take caution when receiving robocalls or totally ignore these calls to avoid falling victim to the fraudulent schemes of illegal robocallers. Interested persons may use the reverse phone number lookup to spot robocalls and avoid falling for scams associated with such robocalls:
Take the following steps to avoid robocalls from fraudulent telemarketers:
- Register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry administered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or call 1 (888) 382-1222 to stop robocalls. Hoosiers may register free of charge, and the registered number will remain on the registry until the owner of the number demands that it be removed. Note that it takes 31 days for a registered number to be updated on the National Do Not Call Registry. Hoosiers may also register on Indiana Do Not Call List.
- File a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission or the Federal Trade Commission to report any suspicious or non-compliant robocalls online. Residents can also call the FTC on 1 (888) 382-1222 or the FCC on 1 (888) 225-5322.
- Avoid answering calls from unknown numbers. You may also hang up as soon as you discern that the call is delivering a pre-recorded message or the caller requests for personal information.
- Bar robocalls by using built-in call-blocking features or third-party mobile applications on your cell phone. Android phones and iPhones have in-built call-blocking features. You can also get free third-party mobile applications like Hiya, Nomorobo, Truecaller, and YouMail on the Google play store or Apple play store, for android and iPhones, respectively.