When and where to report unwanted calls and texts
Spam calls can be one of life's great annoyances. At their least, they can be frustrating; at their worst, they can leave us vulnerable to scams, identity theft and other criminal behavior. Robocalls can be particularly problematic, as most are fraudulent in nature. If you're receiving spam calls, you aren't alone. The good news is the law offers some protection from these annoyances.
Wisconsin state law and federal law related to spam calls
The do-not-call list and Wisconsin State Law related to telemarketing sales offer you some protection from spam calls. In 2014, Wisconsin made its do-not-call list permanent. Before that, individuals had to register their phone number every two years, or they'd be dropped from that list. That changed in 2014 when Wisconsin's do-not-call list merged with the federal do-not-call list, maintained by the Federal Trade Commission. Once your phone number is registered, telemarketers have 31 days to stop calling your number. If they continue, you may want to file a complaint.
The National Do Not Call Registry allows you to report unwanted calls after your number is on the registry for 31 days, including sales calls and robocalls that leave a recorded message on your voicemail. The FTC is also interested in what the call was about, something to keep in mind when you report spam calls.
When and where to report spam calls
Sometimes spam calls continue, and you may even find you get several a day, which can be highly frustrating. If you continue to receive unwanted telemarketing or spam calls after registering your number with the Do Not Call Registry, you have a couple of ways to report them.
To report general consumer complaints in Wisconsin, including telemarketing complaints and robocalls with sales messages you haven't consented to, you can contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP) at 1-800-422-7128 or (608) 224-4953.
If you registered your number on the do-not-call list at least 31 days ago, and you continue to receive spam calls, you can report unwanted calls to the Federal Trade Commission's National Do Not Call Registry.
Many modern telephones and cell phone providers also offer a block function for problem calls, which typically can be accessed directly on your cell phone. The FTC offers information on how to block calls here. This may help quiet the ongoing harassment from a single number. The FTC encourages consumers to hang up on robocalls and use the blocking function. Spam callers have even become adept at utilizing legitimate phone numbers of individuals and businesses to spam consumers. For that reason, the FTC encourages phone customers not to trust caller ID when a phone call comes in.
If you have been scammed or lost money to a scam call, it's essential to report it so that others don't fall victim. You can report fraud from scam calls to the FTC. When problematic numbers are reported, the FTC releases those numbers to the public every business day so that phone service providers and others can flag them and block them for consumers.
Exceptions to the Do-Not-Call regulations
In some instances, organizations are allowed to call you even if your number is on the do-not-call registry. For instance, charities, political groups, organizations with whom you do business, and some surveyors are allowed to call you. In addition, debt collectors can call you, but you do have rights related to these instances, and it is illegal for debt collectors to use abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices. If a debt collector violates your rights, you can report them to the FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the state attorney general.
Know your rights in Wisconsin related to spam calls
When spam calls and other harassing calls come your way, it's important to know your rights and protect yourself from fraudulent practices. With this information, you can now register your phone number with the national do-not-call registry and report spam calls or debt collection calls that violate your rights.
By Emily Iverson, litigation and family law attorney in our La Crosse, WI. Contact her at 608-784-5678.