Automatic Dial Around Devices (ADADs or Robocalls)

What is a robocall and how does it work?

A “robocall” is when you answer your phone and find that you are listening to a recording. These calls are placed by machines which are called automatic dialing announcing devices (ADADs or robocalls). They store hundreds, even thousands, of telephone numbers, and then dial them automatically and play a recorded message.

When can robocalls (ADADs) be used? What companies or agencies can use them?

Robocalls are only legal when introduced by a live person unless:

  1. You are a member or a client of a company or organization that uses them to deliver messages (such as an announcement about a sale) or;
  2. The police, fire or emergency service agency uses them to contact you about an emergency.

What about the robocalls I get around election time about political candidates or other election issues?

Political candidates or others supporting candidates or ballot issues also must follow the law and about using Robocalls, which is found in the California Public Utilities Code, Sections 2871-2876. 

What can I do if I receive a robocall that I think is illegal?

  1. Call your local telephone company to file a complaint. You must give them the name of who called and if possible the telephone number of the robocaller (it may be provided in the message.)
  2. Your telephone company will then tell the business that it is not following the law and may give it some time to correct the problem.
  3. If the business does not correct the use of the robocaller by the time given by the telephone company, the telephone company can disconnect the phone line.
  4. If you are not satisfied with the telephone company’s response to your robocall complaint, you may contact the CPUC’s Consumer Affairs Branch by:


    California Public Utilities Commission
    Consumer Affairs Branch
    505 Van Ness Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 94102-3298