Robocalls are unsolicited phone calls that deliver automated messages to selected phone numbers. A computer software, known as Automated Dialing Announcing Device (ADAD), picks telephone numbers and conveys pre-recorded messages to them when robocalling. Hawaii residents use robocalls for many reasons, some of which are illegitimate. Robocalls are usually unwanted, and they intrude on called parties' privacy. Most robocalls come from fake numbers as spam calls. Spam calls typically attempt to extort call recipients by selling fake services to them. Answering them makes no difference in the number of robocalls that residents get daily. Websites that offer reverse phone lookup services can help anyone differentiate robocalls from live calls.
Robocalls play a significant role in helping the Hawaii government to make public service announcements because of its wide-reaching ability. They are mostly used by telemarketers who engage in reaching out to a mass audience to advertise their clients' products and services. Also, Political organizations use robocalls to canvass votes during elections and in polling public opinions.
What are Hawaii Robocall Scams?
These are scams conducted in Hawaii using robocalls. As with other types of phone frauds, robocall scams are targeted at stealing call recipients' money and confidential information. Doing reverse phone number search on incoming calls can help Islanders recognize robocalls and avoid scams. Robocalls are cheap, easy to initiate, and can reach a large number of phone users at a single dial. These are the reasons phone scammers favor using robocalls to trick their targets. The majority of consumer complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) every year are robocall complaints, and nearly half of them are usually scam calls.
From the almost 116 million robocalls that hit Hawaii in 2018, residents reported only 12,531 of them to the FTC. In 2019, over 150 million robocalls were placed in Hawaii, representing about 124 unwanted calls per resident in that year. The report as of October 2020 indicated about 101 million unsolicited calls already in the state. It is crucial to state that many of these calls are scam calls.
Hawaii phone scammers employ robocalls extensively in their schemes. They dial residents' phone numbers randomly using ADADs to discover live phone numbers for future scams. If you receive a robocall that instructs you to press a particular key to opt-out of an unknown service, it is likely a scam. Pressing such a key notifies scammers that your number is in active use and can earn you repeated calls that could get you scammed. Phone scammers can tweak their identities freely using a technology called spoofing. In such cases, they fool their targets by pretending to be with some government agencies or legitimate businesses with spoofed phone numbers. Spoofed robocalls are regularly getting people scammed in Hawaii. Websites that offer reverse phone lookup services can help you identify spoofed robocalls and avoid scams. Residents of Hawaii who are victims of spoofed robocall scams can register their complaints online with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or call 1 (888) 225-5322.
Does Hawaii Have Anti-Robocall Laws?
The State of Hawaii does not have state-specific anti-robocall laws. However, its residents wholesomely embraced the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. The TRACED Act became public law in the United States on December 30, 2019, the day it was signed by President Donald Trump. Introduced in the Senate on January 16, 2019, by Senator Pallone Thune, the law sought to strengthen the FCC's ability to fight the scourge of illegal robocalls. Under this law, the FCC can issue fines of up to $10,000 per call against violators of its provisions. The TRACED Act also requires telephone service providers (TSPs) to implement the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication structure to curb the menace of robocall scams.
Also, the anti-robocall principles, which emerged after a meeting of states' Attorneys General and 12 TSPs in August 2019, are being adopted in Hawaii. These eight principles seek to combat illegal robocalls. In the bipartisan agreement reached, the participating telephone companies resolved to fuse the following policies into their business processes:
- Implement the STIR/SHAKEN technology for verifying the origin of telephone calls.
- Offering free and easy-to-use call labeling and blocking tools to phone users.
- Monitor their network traffic to identify calls that are consistent with robocalls.
- Initiating traceback investigations on suspicious calls and calling patterns.
- Cooperate with law enforcement, especially in traceback investigations against illegal robocallers.
- Identify the provider from which suspected illegal robocalls entered into their networks or identify their customers if such calls originated from them.
- Properly profile new commercial VoIP customers by collecting identifying information such as location, federal tax ID, nature of their businesses, and contact persons.
- Inform state Attorneys General about identified illegal robocall scam types and suggest ways to avoid and combat them.
Are there Special Requirements for Robocalls in Hawaii?
Although there are no state-specific prerequisites for robocalls in Hawaii, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) identifies some general requirements for unsolicited calls. These provisions exist to help phone users differentiate legitimate robocalls from illegal ones and avoid scams. The TCPA robocall conditions include:
- No entity or person should initiate a telephone solicitation to residents whose phone numbers are registered on the National DNC Registry. However, tax-exempt nonprofit organizations are not obliged to comply with the DNC terms of the TCPA.
- Robocalls can only be placed between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. local time of call recipients.
- Telemarketers must not disconnect unanswered telemarketing calls before at least 15 seconds or four rings.
- Prerecorded messages must identify the names of persons or entities initiating the call and the reason for making such contact. They must also state call-back numbers should the called parties want to make future inquiries.
- Persons who engage in robocalling must desist from transmitting false Caller ID information to call recipients.
How Do I Stop Robocalls?
Telephone service providers can identify the origin of phone calls using a process known as a traceback. It is a manual and time-consuming technique. Consequently, tracking the source of robocalls is not practicable owing to the number of calls placed daily. You can differentiate robocalls from live calls using websites that offer reverse phone lookup services. Eliminating these calls may be challenging, but phone users must find ways to reduce their influx to prevent scams. To do this, your best options are:
- Register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry to remove your number from telemarketers' call lists. Doing this will not stop illegal robocalls, but you will get fewer calls from legitimate telemarketing companies. You can enroll your number online or call 1 (888) 382-1222 from the number you wish to register.
- File robocall complaints with the FCC and FTC. The FTC keeps a database of illegal robocall numbers from which phone companies update their call-blocking lists.
- Enable the Do Not Disturb feature of your cell phone to block calls from numbers not in your contact list. You will not be notified of phone calls from numbers not stored on your phone. If the reasons for such contacts are legitimate, the callers will leave messages for you.
- If you answer a call and realize it is a robocall, end it immediately. Never try to interact with it.
- Use third-party call-blocking applications such as Nomorobo, RoboKiller, Hiya, and YouMail to block robocall numbers. Some of these applications even offer services that can alert phone users about incoming calls from potential scammers.