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Stopping unwanted phone calls and text messages

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Unwanted phone calls or random text messages seem to come at all hours. They bug you at work, interrupt your dinner, or wake you up when you’re sound asleep. I think we can all agree they’re a real nuisance. Did you know they could also be a scam?

If your phone number is one of the more than 217 million numbers on the Do Not Call Registry, you’ve taken action to stop most unwanted sales calls. The law allows political calls, calls from charitable organizations, informational calls, calls about debts you owe, and phone surveys, as well as calls from companies you’ve done business with or gave permission to call.

If you get an unwanted sales call or a robocall—a recorded message that’s pitching a product or service— it’s probably a scam. The unscrupulous businesses behind these calls use autodialers to make thousands of calls a minute and don’t bother to check if the numbers are on the Do Not Call Registry. Don’t press buttons to request to speak to someone or be taken off the call list. You’ll just end up getting more unwanted calls. Hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission at complaints.donotcall.gov or 1-888-382-1222.

If you’re getting repeated calls from the same number, you might want to ask your service provider to block the number; for calls from different numbers, ask if they offer a service to block unwanted calls. You can also buy a call blocking device. Getting calls on your mobile phone? There’s an app for that. Actually, there’s more than one. Look in your mobile app store or marketplace.

What about those random text messages? It’s illegal for a company to send you a text message if it doesn’t have your permission, barring a few exceptions. If you get a random text message from a number you don’t recognize that says you won something or asks you to confirm some personal information, don’t text back or click on links. Report it to your provider at 7726 (SPAM) and to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or 1-888-382-1222.

Comments

I simply keep my ringer turned off and may check for calls a couple times a day. If I don't recognize the number or caller, I simply delete the call. EASY...you don't have to talk to anybody you don't want to or hear the phone ringing incessantly.

If you have an Android phone you can save ALL of your unwanted callers to a New Contact named Ignore, Do Not Answer, Unsolicited, etc. Then you choose Edit Contact, Options, and check the box marked Send Directly to Voicemail. Your phone won't ring and you may get messages, but it helps!

I called Healthcare.gov, used ALL of my alloted minutes on hold and setting up a plan and never gave them my cell phone number. My business with them is complete and the deadlines have passed and I still get a call EVERY DAY. Makes Healthcare.gov and the Affordable Care Act seem evil as no one likes unsolicited calls.

I have no faith in the Do Not Call list anymore. I have a Safelink phone (low income with limited minutes each month) and keep getting calls from scammers. Last year I took the time to type up a list of about 50 phone #s with dates and times and sent them to the complaint email listed on this blog.. To this day I have had no response from anyone. 98% of the calls are males with East Indian or Pakistani accents with American names like Eric, Mark, Joseph, Chuck, etc. etc and ALL are from U.S. PHARMACY wanting to solicit business.
They use a MULTITUDE (30 or more) phone numbers which actually are not even in service. I've told them repeatedly not to call again, to put me on their "do not call" list but to no avail. I am a senior who is very ill and have several specialists I see on a regular basis. It would be too hard for me to change my number and notify all my contacts -- and who is to say my new Safelink number wouldn't get all these calls as well?? I think it is a shame that we do not have better control in our country of these invasive calls.

The information you have would be useful to law enforcement. Please file a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint. You can provide details about the names and numbers of the calls you get. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations nationwide.

Blog comments don't go into the database.

Question: The telemarketing calls are so bad at our home that I never answer calls from numbers I don't recognize any more. And of course, they don't leave messages. I trace or try to trace all numbers that call. How can I report calls if I don't answer them, don't know who they are or what they want, much less telling them not to call any again? I've been keeping records for 3 years now, to no avail. New numbers just keep popping up. I'm blocking area codes now. Getting 4-5 calls a day at home and cell phone.

Get at least 10 calls a month to our 800 number, usually after business hours or in the middle of the night. Our voice mail takes the call which is a never ending spam message.... we end up getting charged for a 32 minute call. $3.79 each time. Last month over $40. Called Verizon but they had no solution. I have the solution Verizon.... ALLOW ME TO LIMIT THE LENGTH OF TIME A VOICEMAIL CAN BE, PLEASE!! This can't be that difficult.

The do not call list is obsolete and the FTC is incapable of stopping the robo calls. The scammers are sophisticated enough to not get caught even if the FTC tried to catch them. I get 8 or 9 calls a day from the same scam and when I block the number through my service provider they just change the number they're calling from. Welcome to the new world order.

We get about 5-7 abandoned calls a day from one of the companies we do deal with. They start about a week before the bill is due and continue until it is paid. Heaven forbid we are a day or two late because then the amount of calls double. They never are there is we answer and they never leave a message. The only reason we know it is them because of researching the number. We have even taken this number off of the account.

everyday we are receiving calls from 8883937162. We do not know whose telephone is. Iam registered with do not call Why?

I have my cell phone registered already. For years already and these days I keep on getting more calls than ever to my cell phone, especially from Ohio, Middleton NJ and...I don't know any of those people. I think this DO NOT CALL REGISTRY is all B.S. They keep on calling.

Got a new number from Sprint few months ago. It was heavily tainted from day 1. I tried using DO NOT DISTURB mode on my smartphone to block unknown numbers, but that apparently doesn't work anymore. Telemarketing and fake calls should be illegal. Why isn't it already?

I get robocalls every single day. And recently it's been a few a day. I used to report them but doesn't actually seem to do anything. I always "block" the number but they use different numbers every day so that doesn't do anything. I wish the FTC actually prosecuted these jerks so this would stop. It's getting out of control.

I totally agree

The only thing more frustrating than these calls one can't stop is the Do-Not-Call Registry which is one of the government's biggest scams. It is an example of how the congress passes laws and then doesn't fund the agency to do what the law requires them to do. I blame the "small government" Republicans who play this game with us, making it seem they respond seriously to citizen problems but not actually doing so. It is a government fraud and deeply dishonest.

I have noticed that once you get all the numbers that are calling blocked a new set of numbers start calling....I am so sick of this...I never used to get these calls until I signed up for my health insurance then everyone started calling day and night 20x a day and more....I started blocking the numbers but new numbers show up from different states I have well over 100 numbers blocked and this has been since the 1st of the year. there should be a law against harassing people like this. I am not in the market for anything yet every day is like walking onto used car lot with 20 greedy salesman chasing me....

This exact thing is happening to me and has been for years. Did you get any relief?

I am getting constantly bothered by numbers that keep trying to send me a fax, based on the beeps whenever I answer....
The truly ridiculous thing is that they are using a spoof number that claims they are from a local hospital, and a variety of different numbers are calling me. I have contacted the hospital to inform them that I do not have a fax machine, and so cannot receive a fax, but they do not recognize the numbers calling me. Since there are several different numbers being used, I cannot block them all through my provider, and now I am getting to the point where I feel like I will need to change my number to escape this ignorance....
I get like 4 - 6 calls trying to send me a fax that I am positive is some stupid ED pill I do not need, and then it stops for a couple of days before starting again, supposedly from the hospital. This has been going on for the last month, and I am at my wits end with it!!

If you're getting a lot of calls, you have useful details for a complaint.  Please report your experience at ftc.gov/complaint. You also might want to sign up for a service to block robocalls, like nomorobo.com, which won the FTC’s 2013 Robocall Challenge.

I am getting unwanted phone calls now that just show an 8 digit phone number with out the area code. I can't call it back or block it because it doesn't show area code. Second time this happened. I am also getting unwanted phone calls from fake windows technicians. My phone number is private and I am on the do not call list.

I am getting constant calls from an unknown # and my phone does not ring 1st - it goes straight to voicemail. It is from Ken from a prosperity network, he leaves a call back # 435-255-7561. I do not want to call him back. I can't block the call because it is unknown, does not ring and does not show up as a "missed call". What can I do to stop this annoying unwanted caller?

You can help law enforcement by reporting the calls you get; go to ftc.gov/complaint and file a complaint. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I keep getting texts from PETER FLEMING SPORTS CASTER JOURNALIST ETC I have recorded and documented the 200+ times I have asked to be removed from the call list on top of that now he sends 4-5 texts a day when does it stop I am charged by text this is a company phone and I am not supposed to be receiving any texts is there a way to charge with harassment. Enough is enough !

These are useful details for a complaint.  Please report your experience at ftc.gov/complaint. Your complaints help the FTC and other law enforcement agencies bring scam artists to justice. We cannot address complaints if they are submitted through the blog comments.

My husband failed to pay taxes for 2 years; as a result, the IRS placed a lein against our property. I paid off the lein. However, the nightmare of unsolicited mail, strangers gawking and surveying our property has been unending. Two years later, the nightmare persists. Called this morning by Irene at Omni Financial in Florida inquiring about our tax debt. Their telephone number is 772-907-9005. I will admit that I was rude with this woman; however, the lein was fully paid and removed yet this company has the right to be intrusive? For my husband's behavior, I have suffered financially and emotionally. My private info has traveled virally throughout the US and is game for every predatory scam organization. Congress needs to reform IRS guidelines; specifically, prohibit access of who can receive records. Please fully prosecute Omn for not abiding by the Do Not Call List. The employee's name was Irene and I doubt that Irene would care about how I was an unwitting victim to being placed on her list. I have worked hard for forty years, paid my taxes, never been engaged in illegal activities, etc. I have however, decided to turn the tables on these predatory companies. This call from Irene just broke me and ai am now fighting back. As my name, phone number and address has been prostituted by unfair tax laws, I will do the same with theirs. It is an inlevel playing field that needs to be mown. I will never know if FTC will penalize Omni and other predators for the emotional anguish they inflict upon innocent taxpayers. They have effectively destroyed a marriage and intruded into the sanctity of our home. Again, please prosecute Omni to the fullest extent the law will provide.

If your number is on the Do Not Call Registry and a company violated the rules, you can report it at ftc.gov/donotcall.

If you think the IRS has wrongly shared your information, you can contact the IRS Taxpayer Advocate service. 

You may also want to check with your city or town to see if information about the lien was included in public records. You can ask if your city or town lets you set limits on who can see your records.

I just called the AARP consumer fraud line and found out I have no recourse to go after the scammer who threatened to call me every day all day.Well, I know what worked before when one of these bullies threatened to call me every day and I did not get calls for months. I took out my Bible and read from the scriptures, very vigorously and offered the scammer the "plan of salvation" several times until he hung up on me. I figured either two things would happen. He would accept Jesus as his savior or leave me alone. If this guy who called today goes through with his threat, i have a Songs of Zion songbook and a singing voice that my own grandchildren find nerve shattering. "The weapons of my warfare are not carnal, but mighty for the bringing down of strongholds."

I'm pretty sure nobody from the FTC actually reads this... Just as nobody from congress actually does anything about it.

For me, it is to the point now where I get more scam calls than I do real calls. My phone book is loaded with numbers labeled scam0-scam8 with four numbers assigned to each. At least this way I can recognize and ignore the call. Unfortunately, they still go to voice mail and there is nothing I can do about that.

The phone coNpany has a solution. Give them $5 a month and they will allow me to block up to 20 numbers. How's that for service?

Folks, nothing is going to be done about this until we camp out in our congressmen's office and demand that the do something.

Actually, the blog is moderated and FTC staff read all the comments before we post them. 

You can help law enforcement by reporting the calls you get; go to ftc.gov/complaint and file a complaint. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Just got 12 calls today from Solar America. I first picked up the phone and heard a beep. I asked who was calling and nothing. Then I heard, "If you want to make a call, please hang up and dial again. I hung up. Then periodically 11 times after that I call calls from Solar America. Since I have Caller ID, I didn't answer. How do I stop this caller?

At this point about 99% of incoming calls I send to voice mail, I have about ten times as many bogus numbers on silent ring tone as legit contacts. Really, I rarely pick up the phone without an email appointment made in advance. Voice telephony is going the way of Detroit. No one wants to deal with it, and it will be soon obsolete because its so overrun with crime & fraud.

Unfortunately I have some legit calls get missed as a result of this.

Same here, it's just makes life so much more difficult because of these callers

Is edu consulting included? How about Euro-(?) cant remember the full name. I have used it a lot. I mean my email address as my Username. Do I need to change my email address? how about financial consultants? Stansberry? Palm Beach?

Please let me know the result for those that I asked cause I have made a $4700 + 600 with them but I did not like the training. Then they credited and made a $2,200 for another training which is still in question. (edu consulting).

I do not know if I created something in my facebook by trying to post it. It in turn gave me a new site aside from the one I created myself with a blank face. Now I have two. Is that legit? I have been using it since but I'm not sure if I should have. When I checked the new one it has the same information as the one I originally created.

So here is what I did when I got this new no. The last guy was apparently 'wanted' - "we know your work address, we will..." == So I put a VM 'this is a new number and on the DNC list, kindly check your resources bef leaving a message'. Calls went WAY down. Then when I did put myself on the DNC, down to a trickle. Try putting a VM even if the # is not so new. Can't hurt. Just let your friends etc. know/

i get a call every stinking day at same time(roughly) saying my credit card is in huge danger unless i ACT NOW!! I Have tried with little success to reason with them. Most times they just instantly hang up, once they know I'm not going for it. I SWEAR Im buying a Rape Whistle and going to blow some ear drums if this continues.....

I have filed DOZENS of complaints with every call I get. I KEEP getting calls from Payday Loans stating I have just applied. I have never and will never use their services. I have blocked every number that comes in and they keep changing them. I have gone to their corporate website and sent them a message to stop calling, no luck. I have verified that I have been on the DO NOT CALL list for a long time, still I get numerous calls from Payday Loans EVERY DAY! What the hell good does the FTC do if you cannot get the fact PAYDAY LOANS will not stop till you MAKE them stop!?

im getting these same calls and they call my family looking for me too....its very upsetting...I'm at my witts end. I call them back and say ok file charges...and they just call again next day. My Dad thinks I'm a criminal now and I'm like NO, its a scam!!!

I'm having this EXACT issue! They started calling my parents cell phones today and now my parents think I'm a criminal. Im TERRIFIED they will call my employer, I would lose my job. These scammers claim that they are trying to trace your whereabouts so they can send law enforcement to fetch you. I've filed complaints but I don't think it makes the calls stop to mine and my family members phones

I keep getting calls from random people asking me if I'm a laundry cleaning business and I have no idea why

Our government does not care or will not take care of the spoofed phone calls. The people have to demand it and tell our government to make the phone companies track them down and shut them down. They have the technology but refuse to use it. The only way to force a change is to vote out any politician that does not work for the people.

Then who would run the "government" if you voted out all the people not "for the people"?

Have you tried changing your phone number?

I am enraged that NOBODY has been willing to tackle/remove this problem once and for. All these folks/companies are interested in is making money from consumers.

I get "charitable contribution" requests nearly every day and I am aware that this is a scam. How can I block these calls? My caller ID always shows these calls without area codes, but include a city name and the last seven numbers. All of these telemarketers open the conversation with: "thank you for your generous contribution to (always a different charity) in the past, what can you contribute again?" None of these made-up charities are ones that I have given money to in the past. These callers are driving me crazy and I just don't pick up the phone if I see these fictitious numbers on my caller ID.

What's with scams being run out of India, Jamaica and Africa? They must really hate Americans or believe we're the dumbest people alive. Sad.

I never had this problem, but I had a friend who were getting robocalled a lot. So this is a solution I had found online before. On your phone, create a contact that says "ignore" etc. Add any unsolicited phone numbers to this list.

NOW!!!...google "disconnected number tone". It's the tone we've all heard at one point that goes "doo-dah-dee...we're sorry, the number you have dialed has been disconnected..." blah blah blah. You just need to find the "doo-dah-dee" part of the tone so you can play the sound at will. Then, on your phone, edit your voicemail message to a personal greeting. When the phone says to start recording your message, play the disconnect tone, then finish with a personal greeting of your choice. Done.

The concept behind this is simple. The three ascending tones are known as Special Information Tones, or SIT. It is an auditory analogue code in the world of telephony that notifies the computer on the receiving end that the number has been disconnected or that it does not exist. It is flagged as such, and the computer automatically removes it from the calling list because, well, why would it want to waste more time calling numbers that don't exist?

It took a few weeks, but it seemed to work for my friend. The auto-dialers would call, get his voicemail, hear the tone and remove his number from their call list one by one. His friends and family can still leave a voicemail (they would just hear the tone at the beginning, followed by his personal greeting and think nothing of it).

Hope this helps some people. It was a very long time ago when I did this.

281 710 0077 is the latest call from "congratulations you have been approved for a payday loan" (to which I have never ever applied for one in my life). If you call back it says only if you are on the no call list press 9......done that hundreds of times and I do mean hundreds of times but continue to get more they do not say what company they are with. Filed complaints with FTC twice, complained to my provider, blocked numbers, not answered and all the time I am on the do not call list for a long time now. The calls from this company comes from all over the United States...same recorded voice, same message......so you block one, then a different number comes up on caller id next time.....I get the calls throughout the day....6:30 am, 7:30 am, 8 am etc.......I am sure the FTC KNOWS and I mean KNOWS who owes this company this number belongs to...........why aren't you doing something..........

What you are doing by providing ANY response, answering the call, pressing a button etc, is giving them the information they need to verify you are a working number.
Really simple actually, do not answer/call back numbers you do not recognize. The only reason you get so many calls as you have been reported to the scammers as a good number. If it is official business, credit companies, IRS etc. they will send you a ground mail. Simply stop calling or answering numbers you don't recognize or look the number up first.

I keep getting a phone call everyday and it leaves a voice mail. The voicemail is at least 2 seconds. It's very annoying. I tried an app to block it but it gets through and leaves a voicemail.

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