I can’t take it. The calls. Selling this. And that. So-and-so from here-and-there selling whatchamacallits. Or you won something. Or owe something. STOP! It’s maddening. They call. And call. And call. Dinner time. Saturdays. Sunday mornings. They don’t care. They just don’t.
And I’ve had it.
How about you?
So I looked around to figure out what I could do about it. I found some great advice from Consumer Reports.
First off, if you feel like you’re getting more and more of those calls than ever before, it’s because you probably are.
Get this. In the month of September alone – according to Consumer Reports – 2.4 BILLION robocalls were made in the United States. That is twice the amount from September 2015.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there are also more ways to stop or at least minimize the annoyance of these calls and potential of being scammed by them.
Know their tricks
For starters – the robocallers use fake numbers – it’s called spoofing – they use software that lets them transmit a number other than the one he’s actually calling from, causing it to show up on your phone’s caller ID.
Sometimes robocallers send numbers that belong to the Internal Revenue Service, your utility, or a company such as Microsoft. If you have caller ID with name, a feature of most landline phones and some cell phones, you will see the name of the agency or company the number is assigned to. It’s a great scam.
Robocallers posing as the IRS may try to trick you into paying taxes you don’t actually owe by threatening you with arrest.
Or, my favorite – pretending to be computer tech support, they might attempt to charge you to remove viruses they falsely claim are hiding in your computer. They might even ask you to let them log onto your computer remotely in order to take it hostage. I’m not kidding. This happened to me. They literally tried to get me to let them get on my computer. Thankfully, I thought better of it. But the robocaller knew an awful lot about me and my computer history. I almost bought into it. Almost.
They could also claim to be from your power company, scammers may threaten to shut off your electricity unless you pay a bogus overdue bill.
What to do.
While nothing can prevent every robocall, there are steps you can take to reduce the number of robocalls you receive and deal with the ones that get through.
Use Call Blocking
One of the best ways to reduce robocalls is to use robocall-blocking technology that intercepts robocalls before they reach you.
Several technologies are available, including services from your phone company or a third-party, equipment that you purchase and connect to your landline phone system, and apps that you install on your cell phone.
With many systems, the technology automatically intercepts calls that appear on blacklists of known numbers that robocallers use. Depending on the system, it may block the calls entirely, send them to voicemail, or prevent the calls from proceeding unless the caller enters a certain number, something the automatic dialing machine robocallers can’t do. Some systems also let you create a “white list” of numbers that you don’t want blocked.
The best systems update their list of numbers frequently, as robocallers change the numbers they spoof. If a robocall gets through, you often can add it to the block list manually and report it to the system provider.
Some call-blocking services and apps are free or have a one-time cost of just a dollar or two. Nomorobo, free for landlines, costs cell phone users $2 monthly after a 30-day free trial.. Perhaps money well spent!
Don’t Answer Unfamiliar Calls
An effective way of dealing with all types of robocalls is to not answer a call from anyone you don’t recognize on your caller ID. If the call is to your landline, use an answering machine to screen it. Otherwise, wait to see if the caller leaves a voicemail message. If you decide to return the call but are uncertain about its legitimacy, don’t use the number that shows up on caller ID or that was left in the message. It could lead you back to a scammer. Instead, try to find the number on your own, perhaps by searching the web for the name of the caller or, if it’s a company you do business with, by checking a prior bill.
Block Anonymous Calls
Another option available from some phone companies and call-blocking equipment is to automatically reject anonymous calls. The downside is that this may prevent you from receiving legitimate calls from friends, relatives, or others who, for privacy reasons, don’t want their number and other information showing up on caller ID.
No matter how angry or frustrated you become when you get a robocall, hang up immediately. Calling back or following the instructions to talk to a representative, even if it’s to complain, may only invite more calls. The same thing can happen if the message invites you to press a number to stop future calls, the FTC warns.
Don’t Blame Your Neighbors
If you receive what appears to be a local call with a telemarketing message or no message at all, it’s likely a case of neighbor spoofing. Resist calling back to inquire or complain. The person who owns the spoofed number is also a victim.
The calls are maddening and get under my skin! Hopefully, following these guidlines will help prevent at least some from getting through!
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