Robocalls aren’t just annoying — some are actually illegal. As of Tuesday, there’s a new way for Washingtonians to report them.
In a continuation of the office’s work to stop illegal robocalls, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson launched a new form for people to report tillegal, harassing calls.
Certain types of robocalls — phone calls that come from an automated system and play a recorded message — are legal.
According to the attorney general’s office, political calls about candidates, charities asking for donations or informational messages like ones for a flight or a school closure are allowed without permission.
But the illegal robocalls can be irritating, or worse, scams to steal your identity or money.
Before this form was launched, Washingtonians could report suspicious calls through the attorney general’s office general consumer complaint form. The new complaint form for robocalls will provide more precise information for quicker reaction to complaints, the attorney general’s office said.
“Many of our cases are based on tips we receive from Washingtonians. If robocalls are harassing you, please file a complaint with my office,” Ferguson said in a statement.
Ferguson’s office said it has resources to track suspected illegal robocallers once people report a call and provide their own number, provider and exact time and date of the call, even when the caller identification is fake.
In the past two years, Ferguson has filed three lawsuits dealing with illegal robocalls.
In March 2021, a lawsuit filed by several attorneys general and the FTC resulted in two companies that made 1.7 million robocalls into Washington paying $495,000 to legitimate charities. In August 2020, a King County Superior Court judge ordered Vancouver-based air duct cleaning companies and their owner pay $10 million in civil penalties after the companies made more than 13 million robocalls within a two year period.
The attorney general’s office filed a third lawsuit last October, which is pending, arguing that an Oregon-based company illegally called Washington residents more than 54,000 times with deceptive recorded messages.
Washington residents can now report suspected illegal robocalls at: fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/robocallForm.aspx
Phone scams and other illegal telemarketing calls can still be reported with the general consumer complaint form, available at: atg.wa.gov/file-complaint
Complaints can also be made to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which received more than 6,000 complaints of phone solicitations from Washington residents in February, according to Ferguson’s office.
To reduce the number of robocalls you receive, you can add your number to the national “do not call” registry at donotcall.gov
In addition to creating the new form, the attorney general’s office also shared information about robocalls and telemarketing scams, as well as tips to combat them at atg.wa.gov/robocall-and-telemarketing-scams.
Here are some of the strategies the office suggests:
Know the following signs of a scam:
- Requests of personal information like your password, social security or bank account number
- Offers for something for free or at a low cost
- Requests for payment other than a credit card, like a gift card or online money transfer
- Scare tactics like threatening to cut off utilities. The government or legitimate businesses usually send a letter if there is a legal issue or problem.
What to do if you suspect a call is scam:
- If you don’t recognize a number, consider allowing the call to go to voicemail. If you pick up, you can hang up immediately and report the call or ask your telephone service to block the number associated.
- However, know that scammers can fake the name and number that appears on your caller ID, so you can’t always trust it
- Hang up immediately if you answer a call and it is a robocall
- Do not to pay or accept any offers.
- Resist the urge to call back or confront the caller