How To Best Deal With Political Robocalls
Nancy Patterson - June 24, 2020
Consider yourself as one of the lucky few if you have yet to be targeted by political robocalls. In the first half of 2019 it is estimated that U.S. consumers experienced roughly 25 billion robocalls. For the math nerds out there that’s roughly 76 calls per person.
Obviously in 2020, and the way things have been going, we are likely to see a major increase in the calls. And why wouldn’t we? It is a cheap and effective way to campaign for votes, fund raise and deliver your messages. It can be 100x cheaper than direct mail or even email campaigns, and 500x cheaper than some pay per click ads you see politicians run.
But what does this mean for you? Well if 2019 is a measure, about 76+ ringing headaches. So what can you do about it? Here’s how to block those political calls from your phone.
Table of Contents
Political Robocalls Overview
So a robocall in respects to a regular phone call is much the same. The only difference is a person isn’t dialing the number, a computer is. When you answer the call, one of two things will happen. Either the computer will play you a prerecorded message, or it will connect you to a live person on the other end.
And now with Political Action Committees (PACs), these kinds of fund raising calls can get out of hand very quickly. Especially if you make the mistake of answering the calls or participating in a previous robocall fund raising attempt. You will be marked as actionable and will be flooded more often.
But Is This Legal?
Well, when it comes to campaigns, the law protects these kinds of actions. While the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (CPA) forbids telemarketers from calling you if you are on the National Do Not Call Registry, when it comes to political calls, these are considered free speech, and protected by the First Amendment. So if you feel like complaining, that’s fine, but know it’s wasted breath.
That is to say, unless you are receiving these calls on your cell phone. In this case they require your permission first. If a campaign does call your cell phone and you have not given them permission to do so, you can sue the violator for up to $1,500 per call. Though a politician will rarely ever be made to pay a penalty for violating the TCPA, and you’d be hard pressed to find a lawyer to take up your case in the first place. Nobody wants to make political enemies. That and when a PAC is involved it can really get cloudy as to who ultimately takes the responsibility.
How to Stop the Political Robocalls!
If you have a landline. This doesn’t really apply to you as the actions, as we laid out, are protected by the first amendment. But that does not leave you powerless if you have a cell phone. So here’s what to do.
Keep it a Secret
When you register to vote, make sure to ask if your phone number is required. In most states it is not. If not, do not put it. You are asking for someone to reach out to you.
Simply stop picking up calls from numbers you don’t recognize. It’s not a good idea. Instead do a reverse phone lookup and find out the caller’s identity. If it is someone you recognize you can always call it back.
Call Blocking Apps
Lots of paid and free apps that will automatically block known robocalls and spam calls.
Shut Down Texts
If you are getting political texts. Typically, you can reply with “STOP” and the service will automatically opt you out.
If you insist on a landline at home, fine. But consider having a VOIP phone. There are many services for auto blocking these calls using VOIP.
Anonymous Call Blocking
In some cases you can contact your phone carrier and ask them about anonymous call blocking. This requires the caller to provide a name or phone number before the call is connected. If they refuse it doesn’t go through. If it does go through you can still opt to accept the call or reject it.
In conclusion you really have no protection if you are still using a landline. However, there is quite a bit you can do to minimize or eliminate political robocalls all together. Good luck!