Robocalls are unsolicited prerecorded telemarketing calls to landline home telephones, and all autodialed or prerecorded calls or text messages to wireless numbers, emergency numbers, and patient rooms at health care facilities. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), FCC rules limit many types of robocalls, though some calls are permissible if prior consent is given. Rules differ between landline and wireless phones.

What are the rules for robocalls?

FCC rules require a business to obtain your written consent – on paper or through electronic means, including website forms, a telephone keypress – or a recording of your oral consent before it may make a prerecorded telemarketing call to your residential phone number or make an autodialed or prerecorded telemarketing call or text to your wireless number.

What are the consent requirements for telemarketers calling my landline?

Businesses must have your prior express written consent before making telemarketing robocalls. Telemarketers are no longer able to make telemarketing robocalls to your landline home telephone based solely on an "established business relationship" that you may have established when purchasing something from a business or contacting the business to ask questions. 

Are robocalls to wireless phones permissible?

Your written or oral consent is required for ALL autodialed or prerecorded calls or texts made to your wireless number. Telemarketers have never been permitted to make robocalls to your wireless phone based solely on an "established business relationship" with you.

Do all prerecorded autodialed calls to my landline violate FCC rules?

Not always. Informational messages such as school closings or flight information are permissible without prior written consent.

What other autodialed calls are permitted under FCC robocall rules?

Market research or polling calls to residential wireline numbers are not restricted by FCC rules, nor are calls on behalf of tax-exempt non-profit groups. The rules do require all prerecorded calls, including market research or polling calls, to identify the caller at the beginning of the message and include a contact phone number. All autodialed or prerecorded non-emergency calls to wireless phones are prohibited without prior expressed consent, regardless of the call's content.

Can I opt out of autodialed calls?

FCC rules require telemarketers to allow you to opt out of receiving additional telemarketing robocalls immediately during a prerecorded telemarketing call through an automated menu. The opt-out mechanism must be announced at the outset of the message and must be available throughout the duration of the call.

The Do Not Call List – how you can protect yourself

Placing your home or personal wireless number on the national Do-Not-Call list prohibits telemarketers from calling - even when they do not use autodialers or prerecorded messages - unless you have given them your prior express written permission to call, or they are exempt from the rule. To register a number, go to www.donotcall.gov.

Filing a complaint

You have multiple options for filing a complaint with the FCC:

  • File a complaint online
  • By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322); ASL: 1-844-432-2275
  • By mail (please include include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible):

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

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Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Saturday, November 7, 2015 - 4:00pm