By Justin Lavelle
Special to the Observer
In today’s landscape, it is not uncommon to receive multiple robocalls a week on both your landline and your cell phone, even though you’ve registered your phone numbers with the Do Not Call Registry. They’re offering everything from lower credit card rates to free vacations and medical alert devices. It’s not only annoying, but many of these calls come with a high probability of scam. Robocalls are scams run by con artists who are trying to trick you out of your money and they simply ignore the law.
Below are must-know tips for putting an end to robocalls:
Do register with the Do Not Call Registry. Although the Do Not Call Registry isn’t always consistent, it’s important to register with them to help eliminate a good portion of calls. If you’ve been on the Do Not Call Registry for a month or longer and still get calls, file a complaint with the FTC. It doesn’t take long, and sometimes enough complaints can get policy changed. Report illegal robocalls to the Federal Trade Commission at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov or call 888-225-5322.
If you’re constantly being called by the same few numbers, consider blocking them. A variety of apps and services, many of them free, make it possible to cut down on unwanted calls on some landline and mobile phones (both Android and iOS). They work by blocking them, alerting you to a possible robocall or forwarding suspicious calls to voicemail.
Set-up “Anonymous Call Rejection” option. Call your phone provider to find out if this option is available for your landline. It lets you screen out calls from callers who have blocked their caller ID information—a tactic of telemarketers.
Sign-Up for Nomorobo. Nomorobo uses a “simultaneous ring” service that detects and blocks robocalls on a blacklist of known offender numbers. Similar to the Do Not Call Registry, it’s not infallible ,but adds a layer of protection. It’s free for landlines and subscription based for mobile.
Check your caller ID. If you do not recognize the phone number on your caller ID, do not answer the phone. Let it go to voicemail or the answering machine. Most telemarketers will hang up and not leave a message. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message. If you answer and there’s a pause, that’s often an indication of a robocall, and you should simply hang up. Never follow the automated voice asking you to press 1. Do not push any numbers to reach a live operator, this signifies that the autodialer has reached a live number and this will probably lead to more robocalls.
Block repeat incoming numbers on your cell phone. Most cell phone providers allow you to block an incoming number to your cell. After the call comes in, follow your provider’s instructions for blocking the number from calling you again.
Download a call-screening app to your cell phone. To help with robo telemarketing calls and robo spam texts to your cellphone, get a call-screening app like Truecaller or PrivacyStar that screens and blocks them.
Sign the Consumer Union petition. Sign the Consumer Union petition at EndRobocalls.org to pressure phone companies to start offering free call-blocking technology.
Check the WhitePages.com. Use the online telephone directory WhitePages.com to look up a phone number you’re unsure about. The site will let you know the scam potential of the phone number even if it doesn’t have the company name listed.
Give out your numbers sparingly. Resist the urge to provide a phone number unless it is absolutely necessary. Just because you’re asked for it, doesn’t mean you’re required to provide it.
Justin Lavelle is the Chief Communications Officer at BeenVerified.com, a website service to access public records and search for people.