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robocall

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A robocall is an automated telephone call initiated by an autodialer for delivery of a prerecorded message.

Robocalls are used for a wide variety of communications including public service announcements, appointment reminders, marketing, advertising, opinion polls and political campaigns. They’re also often used illegally for phone scams.

Robocalls often enable interaction from the recipient, either through voice or keypad input or through transfer to an agent or representative. A scam robocall, for example, might involve a message congratulating the recipient on winning a cruise and requesting them to press 1 to speak to an operator. 

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rules governing robocalls went into effect in October 2013. According to the FCC’s regulations, telemarketers cannot legally make robocalls to a consumer without the individual’s written consent. Robocalls are also subject to restrictions of the Do Not Call Registry.

The term robocall derives from the fact that the call is completely automated, as if conducted by a robot.

This was last updated in February 2014

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