What is a Nebraska Robocall?
A robocall is a telephone call that plays a prerecorded message when picked up. Most robocalls are made by using an automatic dialing-announcing device that selects telephone numbers and automatically plays the prerecorded message. Robocalls are sometimes referred to as spam calls. However, these types of calls have a slight difference between them. Robocalls are mostly unwanted, but sometimes they are also pre-programmed by people for personal reasons. On the other hand, spam calls are always unwanted.
Telemarketers mostly use robocalls to sell products, goods, and services because they are relatively cheap to make and can reach several people within a short timeframe. In addition to being used for telemarketing purposes, they are also a useful tool for disseminating important information to members of the public.
Generally, robocalls are only supposed to be made to people after they have indicated an interest in receiving these types of calls. In the United States, it is illegal to make robocalls that contain sales messages to people without obtaining written permission from them first. However, some robocalls are exempt from this rule and do not require the receiver’s permission. They include:
- Robocalls made by candidates running for political offices as part of their political campaign;
- Robocalls made by government agencies for public service or emergency announcement;
- Robocalls made to members of a charity or to people that have donated to a charity (these robocalls must only be made for a specified charity);
- Robocalls made strictly for informational purposes;
- Robocalls made as part of a debt collection process;
- Robocalls made for market research.
What are Nebraska Robocall Scams?
Nebraska robocall phone scams use illegal robocalls made to Nebraskans to fraudulently obtain personal sensitive information and money from them. For the past five years, the Federal Trade Commission has received over 2,000,000 complaints concerning unwanted robocalls annually. 3,786,771 robocall complaints were recorded by the commission for 2019. In the state of Nebraska alone, 21,156 robocall complaints were reported.
Robocalls are cheap to make, making them very attractive to phone scammers, who do not have to spend a lot of money or energy to reap their illicit rewards. Most times, these scammers use a technique known as phone spoofing to disguise their caller ID information. This makes it difficult for the person receiving the call to know where the call is being made from or that the call is an illegal robocall. However, if the call displays any of the following characteristics, then it is probably a scam robocall:
- The robocall includes a sales message and solicits for funds;
- The robocall has a sense of urgency;
- The robocall indicates that a particular method of payment is preferred over others;
- The robocall indicates that you have to press a number to stop receiving more robocalls;
- The robocall does not provide you with contact details that you can use to get further information.
Does Nebraska Have Anti-Robocall Laws?
Sections 86-236 to 86-257 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes are a series of laws that regulate the use of automatic dialing-announcing devices in the state. These laws, which are collectively referred to as the Automatic Dialing-Announcing Devices Act, provide certain requirements that must be followed by people that wish to make robocalls in the state. The act also prohibits the use of automatic dialing-announcing devices under certain circumstances such as:
- Using an automatic dialing-announcing device in a way that simultaneously engages two or more telephone lines of a business that has a multiline telephone system (NRS 86-246);
- Using an automatic dialing-announcing device in a way that allows it to dial telephone numbers in a detectable, predictable pattern or in any type of non-random manner (NRS 86-251)
Violators of the Nebraska Automatic Dialing-Automatic Devices Act can be charged with a civil penalty ranging from $100 - $2,000.
Also, Nebraska is subject to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Telephone and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act. These are federal anti-robocall laws.
Are there Special Requirements for Robocalls in Nebraska?
As provided by Sections 86-236 to 86-257 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes, also known as the Nebraska Automatic Dialing-Announcing Devices Act, robocalls made in the state must meet certain requirements, which are:
- Solicitation robocalls cannot be made to emergency telephone lines;
- Solicitation robocalls cannot be made to patient or guest rooms in hospitals, nursing homes, and any type of healthcare facility;
- Solicitation robocalls cannot be made to telephone numbers assigned to cellular telephone services, paging services, specialized mobile radio services, or any type of service that charges the receiver for a call;
- Robocalls must be made to residential telephone lines between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.;
- Robocalls must clearly state the identity of the person making the call, and either an address or a phone number that can be used to contact this person (the phone number provided must be different from the one that was used to make the robocall);
- Automatic dialing-announcing devices used in making robocalls must release the telephone line of the receiver not more than five seconds after it has been notified that the call has ended, or as soon as the receiver’s serving telephone company permits;
- Parties that wish to use an automatic dialing-announcing device for any purpose that excludes solicitation robocalls must register the device with the Nebraska Public Service Commission;
Nebraska Revised Statutes Chapter 86-256 exempts certain types of robocalls from some of these requirements. Exempt robocalls are:
- Robocalls made from educational institutions to its students, parents, or employees;
- Robocalls made from a Nebraska political subdivision;
- Robocalls made to people that have established a personal or business relationship with either the person making the call or the person on whose behalf the call is being made;
- Robocalls made from employers to employees advising them of work schedules
How Do I Stop Robocalls?
Unwanted robocalls and robocall scams constitute a nuisance to Nebraskans, and this menace is being tackled at state and federal levels. As part of its anti-robocall efforts, the Federal Communication Commission has directed all phone companies to implement the STIR/SHAKEN system before the 1st of July, 2021. This is a caller ID authentication system that is expected to drastically reduce the number of unwanted robocalls people receive.
At the state level, Nebraskans can reduce the number of unwanted calls they receive by following these tips provided by the state’s Attorney General’s Office:
- Contact your local phone company to find out the custom calling features they offer. These features typically include options for rejecting calls from anonymous callers, blocking unknown callers, and selectively accepting calls;
- Download call blocking apps and apps that can perform phone lookups and reverse phone number lookups. Most of these apps also flag calls from suspicious numbers (note that some phones have built-in call blocking features);
- Add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry;
- Report all unwanted calls to the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-727-6432. You can also report scams and unwanted calls online to this office, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission.