How to Block Political Robocalls

Tips for stopping these disruptive annoyances

As an election year ramps up, so does political spending to try to influence voters. Campaigns spend hundreds of billions of dollars on commercials, print ads, yard signs, pamphlets, and, of course, robocalls

If you find yourself on the receiving end of unwanted canned statements from pleading politicians, here's what to do.

It's not just robocalls anymore. Robotexts are auto-dialed text messages. They're considered a type of call and fall under all the robocall rules. 

Political Robocall Rules

According to the FTC, a robocall that tries to sell you something is illegal, and likely a scam, unless you've given the company express permission to contact you via robocalls. Political robocalls are considered different and have their own set of rules and regulations.

Political campaign-related robocalls and robotexts can't legally be sent to cell phones and mobile devices without your consent. They can't be sent to protected phone lines, such as emergency lines or lines that serve hospitals, unless there's prior consent. But political robocalls are allowed when made to landline phones, even without prior consent.

Robocalls from debt collectors and charities, as well as opted-in reminders and updates, are also considered legal.

A man holding his head while taking a phone call.

Getting Rid of Unwanted Political Robocalls

You may be receiving unwanted political robocalls at home on a landline, or you may be getting political robocalls or robotexts on your mobile device, and you're not sure how or when you gave "permission." In either case, there are measures you can take to stop political robocalls.

Many consumers think adding their number to the Do Not Call List, a national list of mobile and landline phone numbers that have opted out of receiving legal telemarketing calls, will stop political robocalls, but the Do Not Call List doesn't apply to political calls.

Don't List a Phone Number During Voter Registration

When you register to vote, most states require only your street address and not a phone number. If campaigns can't find your phone number, they can't call you.

If you've already registered to vote, submit a voter registration update/change and remove your phone number. Updating a voter registration varies by state, but most offer an online update option. You could also submit changes over the phone or by mail.

Use a Robocall Blocking Service

NoMoRobo is a robocall-blocking service that works on VoIP landlines (such as AT&T U-Verse and Vonage) as well as iPhones and Android phones.

NoMoRobo and similar services work by scanning a blocklist of known robocallers. Its list is massive, compiled with the help of the FTC as well as other sources, including users who submit numbers. Incoming calls are caught after the first ring and then are compared to the blocklist. If it's a robocall, NoMoRobo effectively hangs up on the call before you get bothered.

YouMail and RoboKiller are additional free robocall-blocking services for mobile phones.

If NoMoRobo doesn't support your landline provider, obtain a Google Voice number or port your landline number to a Google Voice number. You'll be able to use NoMoRobo and also have access to Google Voice's other great features.

Use Your Landline Provider's Call-Screening Features

If you have a landline that isn't VoIP enabled, your provider likely offers features such as anonymous call rejection. Visit your provider's website for more details on setting up this kind of feature.

Anonymous call rejection typically forces the caller to expose their identity by either revealing their real caller ID information or stating their name after being prompted.

Check With Your Wireless Provider

Most wireless carriers offer call-blocking features to customers, either free or for a fee. For example, AT&T's Mobile Security and Call Protect services for Android and iOS block calls from likely scammers and identify telemarketing calls. Users can add numbers to a block list, as well. Check with your wireless provider to see if it offers similar features.

Will New Robocall Legislation Help?

In December 2019, President Trump signed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. The White House says this measure aims to “provide American consumers with even greater protection against annoying unsolicited robocalls.” 

The bill requires voice service providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, to authenticate calls to eliminate call spoofing and fake or spam robocalls. Political calls aren't legally affected by these new rules, but the new authentication technology may serve to impede at least some of them.