Stop robocalls once and for all
Phone call scams are one of the most frustrating things on the planet. Whether a telemarketer or an automated robocaller, these calls always seem to come at the worst possible moment. According to YouMail, by the end of this year alone, Americans will have received over 52 billion robocalls—that’s one billion a week! In this article, we explain why you are getting spam calls and 10 steps to stop robocalls.
Robocalls come in all varieties. Along with the “scam likely” calls, more organized attacks use deceiving tactics, like spoofing local numbers and well-known companies’ numbers, to get you to provide personal information or money. These types of scammers have recently started using SMS phishing text messages that look like they’re coming from your own phone number.
There’s one thing we can all agree on: robocalls need to stop. Read on to learn how to stop robocalls once and for all!
Why Are You Getting Spam Calls?
Although it may feel like robocall scammers have a personal vendetta against you, they don’t. Scammers get phone numbers by randomly dialing them or by sequentially going through area codes. According to the FCC and FTC, some RoboCallers buy lists of phone numbers from other criminals. They also send text messages en masse and then test to see if anyone responds by trying to opt out.
Since scammers can buy lists of phone numbers from reliable sources for their illegal activity, the podcast Reply All decided to investigate whether mobile apps share location data along with phone numbers. Although they found no concrete evidence, there is still a lack of regulation regarding how companies handle and sell collected data. According to scam-protection company First Orion, scammers have increasingly been targeting people with personalized information acquired from data breaches. Even so, the majority of robocalls appear to be random.
Can’t the Phone Networks Reject Robocalls?
For years, phone companies and regulators have been claiming that they’d introduce new technology to eliminate robocalls. And yet, phones keep ringing off the hook. In 2019, in an effort to stop this once and for all, Congress passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. This Act requires telephone companies to implement new technology known as “STIR/SHAKEN” by June of 2021.
The STIR/SHAKEN system helps phone companies flag any calls that don’t come from the numbers shown on their users’ phones’ caller ID. That means your phone will often warn you about “Scam Likely” or “Suspected Scam.” But this new system can’t catch all scam calls. The FCC warns phone users (PDF) that though STIR/SHAKEN is likely to improve the quality of caller ID information, this will not automatically mean the call itself is legitimate. They say users need to stay vigilant and not let their guard down.
Foreign robocalls are more difficult to stop because they are not subject to the same regulations as domestic calls. In May, the FCC voted unanimously to require gateway providers – the companies that connect foreign calls to American phones – to comply with STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication protocols and take the necessary measures towards validating and identifying foreign telecom companies whose traffic they route. This will help reduce illegal robocalls originating overseas from entering U.S. phone networks.
One downside to STIR/SHAKEN is that it only works with mobile phones and internet-based telephone service, not regular landlines. Additionally, this method cannot control spam texts from being sent.
For years phone companies neglected the robocall problem as it worsened, but now they’re using STIR/SHAKEN to halt fraudulent calls and others that appear suspicious. AT&T says it is labeling or blocking about one billion robocalls every month. Despite increasing advancements in call screening technology, robocallers continue to find ways to avoid detection.
What Can You Do to Stop Robocalls on Your Phone?
The following are steps you can take to pull the plug on spam calls once and for all:
1. Add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry to Stop Robocalls
The Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry is your best bet against telemarketers. You can join by calling 1-888-382-1222 using the phone number you wish to register. If you have multiple lines, visit DoNotCall.gov instead. The FTC has taken legal action 51 times and counting against companies that break the rules set in place, recovering over $112 million. It will take about a month once you sign up for the registration to take effect.
2. Download a call blocker app to Stop Robocalls
Signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry will reduce the amount of spam calls you receive. However, it helps if you consider adding an extra layer of protection by using a spam-filtering app in addition to the registry. Call blocker apps use user-reported robocalls to block numbers from ever ringing through to your phone. You’ll be quickly notified of potential threats and can rest easy knowing you’re protected against unwanted callers!
3. Ask your phone company about call-blocking services
In addition to call-blocker apps, some phone companies offer their own call-blocking services. AT&T, for example, provides a service called Call Protect for free to its postpaid wireless customers. This service automatically blocks suspected spam calls and allows you to report unwanted callers.
4. Be extra cautious of unfamiliar numbers
If you don’t recognize a number calling you, let it go to voicemail. You can always listen to the message later and decide whether or not to call back. If the caller doesn’t leave a message, chances are it wasn’t important. Be extra cautious of unfamiliar numbers that do leave a message, as scammers often use recorded messages to attempt to steal your personal information.
5. Don’t answer calls from unfamiliar area codes
If you receive a call from an area code you don’t recognize, don’t answer it! It’s best to err on the side of caution, as scammers will often spoof local area codes to trick you into answering their call.
6. Block unknown callers on your iPhone to Stop Robocalls
If you have an iPhone, there’s a built-in feature that allows you to block unknown callers. To enable this feature, go to Settings > Phone > and toggle the switch next to Silence Unknown Callers. Once this feature is enabled, all calls from numbers not in your contacts will go straight to voicemail.
7. Silence incoming calls on your Samsung phone
Samsung phones have a similar feature to the iPhone’s Silence Unknown Callers setting called Smart Call. To enable this feature on your Samsung phone, go to Call settings > Caller ID and spam protection > and toggle the switch so that it turns green. Once this feature is enabled, all calls from numbers not in your contacts will be blocked.
8. Use Google Voice to screen calls
Google Voice is a free service that allows you to screen calls easily. When you receive a call, Google Voice will ask the caller to state their name. Once the caller states their name, you’ll be able to decide whether or not to answer the call. This is a great way to screen calls from unknown numbers, as you’ll know who is calling before you even pick up the phone.
9. Be aware of red flags
A few red flags can help you identify a scam call:
- If the caller offers a free vacation or prize, it’s likely a scam.
- If the caller asks you to pay for something to receive a prize, it’s definitely a scam.
- If the caller asks for your personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number, hang up immediately!
These major red flags indicate you’re dealing with a scammer.
10. Hang up on unwanted calls
If you receive an unwanted call, the best thing to do is hang up. Don’t engage with the caller in any way, as this could lead to further harassment. Once you’ve hung up, block the number so that you won’t receive any future calls from that individual.
By following these simple tips, you can protect yourself from unwanted calls and ensure that your phone is only being used for legitimate purposes. Don’t hesitate to take action if you think you’re receiving spam calls, as these nuisance callers can be very persistent. A little bit of prevention can go a long way in protecting yourself from these scam artists!
Contact us today to learn the steps we have taken to stop robocalls.