How to Stop Robocalls
If your ears are ringing from pesky automated calls hawking everything from low-interest loans to vinyl siding, here's how to get some peace and quiet.
Who's Calling: Scammers
If a robocall from a company that you've never heard of offers you a great insurance rate or a low-interest loan, beware.
Such pitches are illegal and probably fraudulent. "A lot of the unsolicited robocalls that consumers receive are complete
scams," says Kati Daffan, an attorney for the FTC. And fraudsters have tricky ways to get you to pick up the phone: They sometimes
use technology that allows them to fake their caller IDs, a practice known as "spoofing." For example, the caller ID may look
like a local cell-phone number.
What you can do: Let all calls with IDs that you don't recognize go to voice mail. If you happen to answer a sales-telemarketing robocall, hang up immediately; don't press a number. If you do, you're signaling that you're a live human being at a working number, which may result in more robocalls, says Daffan. Also, don't give out personal information, even if you think the caller is a legitimate bank, say, checking on your creditcard activity. Instead, call back at a number you can verify from a bank statement or a company website, in case the call is bogus, says Katherine Hutt, the national spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau in Washington D.C. Finally, report any information you have on dubious calls at donotcall.gov.
If annoying calls of any kind still get through, ask your phone-service provider about call-blocking services—for instance, blocking all "private" numbers, which are often used by solicitors. This, however, may result in additional fees. Blocking specific numbers from past robocallers may not be worth the cost, as scammers change numbers frequently, says Daffan. Another option: GoogleVoice's free Internet-based phone service has a screening feature that asks callers to say their names before you pick up your home phone or cell phone; it's a great option for people who miss listening to someone talk on their answering machine before picking up. To reduce robocalls and spam texts on your cell phone, you can try a free call-blocking app, such as Call Control, which maintains a blacklist of spam numbers reported by its users to block those calls. Sorry, Deb!