Stop Annoying Robocalls in Their Tracks!

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(Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

Robocalls will be on the rise from now until election day. Not just annoying, robocalls can also be abused by scammers attempting to get money or personally identifiable information from consumers. Not only spoofing caller ids from Washington, DC, they are increasingly spoofing local or “neighborhood numbers”, where calls appear to come from a local area code. Of course, the Do Not Call Registry was supposed to stop these calls, but only legitimate companies bother to refer to this registry. That leaves scammers and disreputable companies who believe that all phone numbers are fair game for exploitation. With the ability to spoof their caller id plus the ability to set up and dismantle operations within hours, it is often very difficult for law enforcement to catch these companies. So that brings us back to consumers. What can we do to stop telemarketers and robocalls in their tracks?

It turns out there are a number of methods that consumers can use to take things into their own hands. Some are fee-based, but many are free. They include:

  • Your Smartphone Privacy and Call Blocking Settings. This is your first line of defense against unwanted calls. Check your privacy permissions and learn how to block calls directly on your phone.
  • Your Mobile Service Carrier also offers options for call blocking. Contact your carrier or log on to their website to find out more details on how to block calls.
  • Mobile Apps offer a variety of resources to help block calls on your smartphone. Just be sure to download the app from a trusted source. Watch out for third party apps. Also, be sure to check the terms and privacy settings for the app to make sure you’re not giving away more information than you intend.
  • A Cloud-Based Blocking Service gives you the benefit of a large blacklist database to help protect your phone and reduce unwanted calls. The drawback is that you are required to supply personal or contact information to build your personal blacklist database.
  • Call Blocking Device. Like their software or mobile app counterparts, this hardware will also create a black list for the numbers you select. This device typically offers a number of options in user settings to tailor to your call blocking needs.
  • Just Don’t Answer. Often the best practice is to simply not answer your phone, when numbers you don’t recognize or “unknown caller” pop up on your caller id.

Source: BBBNA, BBB.org, & the FTC – United States Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov – not subject to copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. 403.

To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to bbb.org.

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