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AG Chris Koster | FAQs
Missouri Attorney General

Frequently asked questions about robo-calls

Table of Contents

What is a robo-call?

The word robo-call is not defined in federal or state law, but it commonly means telephone calls made using both automated dialing devices and prerecorded voice messages.

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Why am I getting robo-calls if I’m on the Missouri No Call list?

Despite efforts to amend Missouri’s Do Not Call law to prohibit or better regulate robo-calls, the No Call law remains silent on this issue. In contrast, at least 23 states from across the nation currently regulate robo-calls to some degree.

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How can I stop robo-calls?

You can cut back on the number of robo-calls you receive in a variety of ways. Registering your home telephone number(s) with the state and federal No Call lists can help reduce drastically all unwanted calls, whether robo-calls or other kinds of unwanted telemarketing. Whenever possible, declining to provide your telephone number to businesses, and/or checking the opt-out box on solicitation cards, can help too. If you get a robo-call, listen for a contact number or address so that you may get on the caller’s do not call list.

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Aren’t robocalls illegal?

Many, but not all, robo-calls are illegal under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). However, robo-calls made for non-commercial purposes typically are allowed subject to certain technical requirements. For all permitted robo-calls, the TCPA requires the individual or entity responsible for the call to be identified at the beginning of the message. Additionally, the individual or entity responsible for the call must provide an address or telephone number where you can reach them to request that you be removed from their call list.

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What can I do if I get an illegal political robo-call?

As election season approaches, if you get a political robo-call in which the message fails to identify the party responsible for the call up front and/or fails to provide an address or telephone number to contact, the call may violate federal law. You are encouraged to call the Attorney General’s Office at 1-866-662-2551, or contact us online at ago.mo.gov, to report your complaint. Please make your complaint as detailed as possible, including the content of the call you received and the time you received it.

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How will the Attorney General’s Office be able to enforce this law when the caller refuses to provide their identity?

Some political robo-callers, such as those who call late at night and under false pretenses, often engage devices to prevent you from calling back and identifying the source of the call. However, the Attorney General’s Office has coordinated a strong law enforcement effort of career investigators and attorneys to help identify the caller. If you receive an illegal robo-call, please make use of the Attorney General’s hotline at 1-866-662-2551 or file a complaint online. By filing a complaint, you may save yourself and others a lot of hassle.

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So the Attorney General’s Office will take my complaint -- what will happen next?

On Sept. 2, 2008, the Attorney General presented a letter to the treasurers of all the political committees registered in Missouri. In that letter, the Attorney General put the committees on notice that the TCPA requires robo-calls to provide identification of the caller and a call-back option for the recipient. The Attorney General advised the committees that violators of the TCPA will be subject to legal action. The TCPA authorizes state attorneys general to enforce its identification and call-back provisions, and the Attorney General will not hesitate to use that authority to protect the privacy of Missouri citizens.

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Are all political candidates/entities required to follow this law?

Candidates for federal elections, as well as entities seeking to influence federal elections, face regulation by the Federal Election Commission. Various federal laws govern the manner in which political speech is communicated in those races. While the TCPA may not be one of those laws, you have the right to expect that all candidates and entities participating in the political process at any level provide you with a meaningful opportunity to decline to receive their calls.

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What are the penalties for making an illegal robo-call?

Under the TCPA, the parties responsible for making illegal calls may be fined up to $1,500 per call and prohibited from making further illegal calls. Know that some robo-call companies claim to be able to make hundreds of thousands of calls in an hour. At up to $1,500 per illegal call, the TCPA’s penalties have strong potential to deter illegal conduct. But our ability to enforce the TCPA depends on you. If you receive an illegal robo-call, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.

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