(WASHINGTON) -- "Robocalls," those unsolicited, inhuman phone calls that always seem to come at the most inopportune times, may be one of the most annoying aspects of modern life.
Every night at dinnertime, marketers rev up their computers and dial countless numbers, ringing phones all over America. But as of Wednesday, after thousands of complaints, the Federal Communications Commission is going to require companies to get your expressed, written consent before they "robocall" or text you.
"Consumers who don't mind getting these calls can still get them," Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the FCC, told ABC News. "Those who don't want them don't have to."
However, there are still some loopholes. Nonprofit groups like your kid's school or your local church can still "robocall" you. So can politicians and pollsters.
Also, if companies want to go old school, they can still have real human beings call you.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
- Starting soon, anyone who "robocalls" you will have to give you an opportunity to opt-out of all future calls within the first two seconds of the call.
- Go to DoNotCall.gov and add your name to the National Do Not Call Registry. The registry requires that you re-up every five years.
- If you're on the National Do Not Call Registry and you're still getting called, depending on which state you're in you may be able to sue the company.
- Never give out your phone number on the checkout line when shopping.
Even if you take precautions, however, the truth is marketers will still try to find ways to reach you.
The government acknowledges this, but insists that Wednesday they struck a big blow against marketers, making dinner time in America much saner.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio