What Is a Florida Robocall?
A robocall is an automated telephone call that mostly delivers a prerecorded message and may sometimes direct the recipient to follow specific instructions to connect with a live agent. Typically, robocalls are used by telemarketers and political parties as well as government agencies making public service announcements. However, fraudsters also take advantage of these calls and use them to scam people by selling fake products and services or prompting the recipient to divulge sensitive information. Such robocalls fall in the category of spam calls, as they are unsolicited and unwanted. They may be classified as scam calls when used for malicious intentions.
The original purpose of creating robocalls is to deliver messages promptly and at low costs with minimal or no human involvement. In Florida, robocalls are classified as unsolicited communications and are regulated by the Florida Division of Consumer Services.
What Are Florida Robocall Scams?
Florida robocall scams involve robocalls that are aimed at scamming unsuspecting persons with the intention of extorting or stealing personal financial information from them. Some robocalls are also created with the intent to play harmful pranks on their targets. Fraudsters frequently use robocalls because they require very little human involvement and can reach several large groups of people. Residents can use the reverse phone number search to differentiate a robocall from a live call.
In 2019, Florida was among the top 20 states in the United States with the highest number of robocalls. The state had 1,747 robocalls per 100,000 residents with 354,315 robocall complaints. From 2015 to 2019, Florida experienced an average of 16% annual increase in robocalls.
How Are Robocalls Used in Florida Scams?
In Florida, phone scammers sometimes use robocalls to mask their identities by displaying false caller ID details. Phone scammers spoof robocalls and make them look like numbers that the targets are familiar with in order to make them feel comfortable answering these calls. Some robocallers impersonate government agencies and legitimate businesses to cheat unsuspecting persons or trick them into divulging confidential information. Besides impersonating legitimate entities, robocallers use numbers identical to their targets’ numbers so that they appear familiar and increase the likelihood that these calls will be answered. Robocalls are pre-recorded and mostly instruct recipients to press specific keys or numbers to speak with live agents. Floridians can use reverse phone lookup applications to identify robocallers and avoid phone scams.
Does Florida Have Anti-Robocall Laws?
Florida does not have any specific laws on robocalls. However, the state has a Telemarketing Act that protects consumers from telemarketing frauds involving robocalls and called ID spoofing. The Act mandates that businesses that employ telemarketing to obtain licenses from the Florida Division of Consumer Services as a prerequisite for operating in Florida. To verify if a telemarketer has a license, use the Business/Complaint Lookup on the Florida Consumer Services Division website and fill in the required information. Florida Consumer Protection Act also restricts telemarketers from sending robocalls to persons whose numbers are on the Do Not Call List. The Do Not Call Act came into effect on July 1, 2018.
In addition, under Florida Statute § 501.059, any telephone solicitor who makes unsolicited calls to mobile, residential, or paging devices must introduce themselves as soon as recipients answer. Such callers must state their actual first and last names and the names of their telemarketing firms.
Are There Special Requirements for Robocalls in Florida?
Florida has special requirements for robocalls which are regulated by the Florida Consumer Services Division. It is mandatory that telemarketers and other legitimate agencies comply with these requirements, as non-compliance makes their robocalls illegal and potentially scam calls. Residents can use reverse phone number search to determine if an unknown call is a robocall. All robocalls in Florida must fulfill the following requirements:
- Only licensed telemarketers and eligible entities are permitted to place robocalls, and these calls must be between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Florida local time. Robocalls that occur outside these hours are deemed illegal unless the recipients give prior consent to be contacted at any time.
- The caller must have obtained express written consent (written or electronic signatures) from the call recipient before placing robocalls to them.
- Contacting a number that is on the Florida Do Not Call List or the National Do Not Call Registry is illegal and is considered a violation.
- The caller must clearly state the purpose of the call, the name of the business on whose behalf they are calling, and the product or service for sale.
Despite the restriction placed on robocalls, some robocalls are exempted from some of these requirements. Some robocallers may be permitted to make these calls to residents even without their permission. Robocalls for public service announcements and calls from charitable organizations, health care providers, and political organizations fall in this category.
How Do I Stop Robocalls?
Florida residents receive lots of robocalls and these can be quite frustrating and annoying. Scammers also take advantage of robocalls to defraud or steal confidential records of unsuspecting residents. Consequently, it is important that Floridians are cautious of the fraudulent schemes of illegal robocallers and also take some measures to restrict these robocalls. Residents may use the reverse phone number lookup to identify robocallers and avoid falling victim to their scams:
Take the following steps to stop robocalls from telemarketers:
- Register the affected number on the National Do Not Call Registry managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or call 1 (888) 382-1222. Interested persons may register at no cost, and a registered number will be on the registry until the owner of the number requests that it be removed. Note that it may take up to 31 days for a registered number to stop receiving robocalls from legitimate telemarketers. Florida residents may also Subscribe to Florida Do Not Call List.
- Do not answer calls from unknown numbers or hang up as soon as you realize that the call is delivering a pre-recorded message or when the caller requests for sensitive information.
- File a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or the Federal Trade Commission to report any suspicious or non-complaint robocalls online. Interested persons can also call the FTC on 1 (888) 382-1222 or the FCC on 1 (888) 225-5322.
- Block robocalls with in-built call-blocking features or mobile applications on your cell phone. Both Android phones and iPhones have built-in call-blocking features. On the other hand, there are several third-party mobile applications that offer call-blocking services at no cost.