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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 feel like even though we put our numbers on the Do Not Call Registery that when new numbers aka scammers come out we have to constantly keep putting our numbers on those list. One scanner can call from all different numbers. I wish there was more to do in these cases but I fear in life we are stuck with putting up with these annoying scammers forever! Now me I can handle it but when it goes to my elderly mom all hours of the night that makes me mad! I've put her on do not call list every week for years & she still gets cause from new numbers about same thing. Funny thing is I've tried calling them to act like I'm the scammer but the numbers are no longer available! Reached non existed number. Turn tables on them I saw play it out like the prankster people do. I've done it couple times confuses them they get mad hung up! Ask to speak to supervisor ask to talk to head of company. Turn the tables I say! We all work for our money to make a living & im sure there are people who are working at these call centers who are doing just that & not really understanding what they are doing to others or just don't care as long as they get a paycheck.

I received a call from 701-353-3250, figure it's a scam or a telemarketer, did not answer, they did not leave a message. I don't have as many calls as I use too, perhaps they have decided it's worthless to call me. However, do not appreciate these unwanted calls and do not answer if the name or number is unfamiliar to me.

What I'm wondering is why can't providers(ATT,Verizon,Sprint,etc) block calls from distant area codes? Why can't I just say, "I only want to receive calls from, say, 925 or 510 area codes AND NO OTHERS"? Problem solved, no more annoying robo-calls from Jamaica, New Jersey, Florida, Oregon, Texas, or Illinois(I have received robo-calls from all of these). Surely providers have the technical capacity to do this, but they don't. Why? Because they don't want to. If there was a provider that did, I would take my business to that provider immediately.

Of course, if there was any serious competition between providers, they would fix this problem. But there isn't, so they all just remain totally unresponsive to legitimate consumer concerns.

I still get calls from unknown numbers, phone numbers that aren't numbers example, 0, 1, 1234. Even after having phone features on with the phone company/

We are getting calls from charities that we have never donated to and the charities don't even seem to be legitimate. The Do Not Call list is a joke - it does no good. We also get 'pay phone' calls that I know are a scam. Now they are even calling using family members names on the caller id. How are they able to do this?

I feel like I live my entire life all day and night dealing with spam emails and calls. I deal with it at work during the day with both my work phone and my cell phone at the same time along with emails and then come home and eat with it on my land line and cell phone all night.

I get calls and emails on weekends, holidays and up to 25-30 spam emails a day and 10-15 calls a day. It's truly a living nightmare. I feel violated and harassed DAILY. All number have been on the DNC lists which is a complete joke.

There needs to be laws in place to get this to stop...NOW! It is an invasion of privacy, it is harassment and if I wanted a damn product or service, I will call them. They should not be bothering me. When is our government going to step up and stop this?????

I think it's time we start pestering our senators and congressmen about this issue. We all receive unwarranted calls just like we did before the DNC registry. I can't fault the FTC because it's our representatives that determine their budget. This is the Federal "Trade" Commission. I imagine their scope is limited to preventing legitimate businesses from abusing us, and their hands are tied when dealing with scammers and phishers.

Our representatives need to empower the FTC and FCC to cooperate to start dealing with this new privacy threat. People are getting harassed, interrupted, and (some) having their identities stolen or getting similarly screwed over. We're all hanging out here unprotected. Call AND write your representatives and spur them into action.

Every week I get a call saying"congratulations... you payday loan has been approved!' I press 9 to decline and take myself off their list, and I block the number called from. The next week I get the exact same call from another number. I have blocled at least 10 numbers at this point. I have never in my life applied for a payday loan. How can I stop the calls?

You have a few options for blocking unwanted calls.

My father is 92 yrs old & only has a land line. I live close to look after him & unbelievable how many scam calls he receives, at least 20 calls a day. Most of the calls are from "charities" and political groups, some are just plain scams. Unfortunately he is lonely & will talk to them and he does give to some charities/political groups (I have no idea if they are legit), so this leads to more & more calls. Lately I've become aware that these people ask him for a donation, which then becomes a MONTHTLY donation charged directly to his card FOREVER. He tells me did not intend or give authorization for such charges. I got him to call the card to try and stop the charges (there are several) but the card says they they are legit. My father refuses to cancel the card & without power of attorney I can't do much but make him mad & upset. He has been charged many $100's. He cannot find me any phone numbers for these chargers. What's lower than the victimization of an generous old gentleman on a fixed income & with major medical bills? He's exactly what these groups look for. How do these people get the right to charge monthly? How do I protect my father from these people? Word is out & more & more calls are coming...

The Fair Credit Billing Act gives people a right to challenge unauthorized charges. This article explains your rights and how to dispute credit card charges.

The card-holder has to write to the creditor at the address given for "billing inquiries," not the address for sending your payments. Include your name, address, account number, and a description of the billing error. We have a sample letter you can use.

It is getting worse! I am on the do not call list and I get 5-7 calls a DAY! They say they can get away with this because it is a 3rd party list they use that was sold. about my credit cards getting lowered, IRS scams... it wont end!!! HELP!

I agree Diana. I'm in the same boat.it says I registered in 2009 but I get between 5 - 10 calls a day. VERY FRUSTRATING!

Can't you guys make it illegal to spoof numbers, track these crooks down and prosecute them? I am sick of getting these calls on my cell phone. I am getting call from 800221, which is not even a real number! Seems like our tax dollars and your agency should be coming up with a better solution than the do not call list. There is apparently no incentive for these harassing crooks to stop as the problem is getting worse!

I am so fed up of being unable to eliminate these spam and robocalls. putting my name on a DNC list is useless. what makes any business think a consumer wants to be bothered? unbelievable what greed does.I get calls daily, they change numbers, btw. ridiculous that we have to put up with this.

Don't bother blocking the numbers, either. Even assuming they don't have access to the number's prefix, that still gives them ten thousand numbers to use. If they also have access to the prefix, that gives them ten MILLION.

I keep getting calls from this number: 1-954-921-3812. They don't leave a message and when I call back, it either doesn't go anywhere or no one answers, but will receive the "your call is important to us, please continue to hold and an agent with be right with you" automated response. What is this number?

Are telecoms still required to connect every call? Why can't a telecom use techniques similar to email anti spam to block junk calls?

Used to get a lot of these calls on my cellphone.
Left this on my voicemail message...
Thank you for calling 000-000-0000. Please leave message. We do not accept Unknown Calls or Calls with no Caller ID.
Then I block their calls.
Took about a month and a half, but now I'm lucky to get 1 call in 6 months.
Only works, if you agree not to pick up the phone when it says Unknown Caller or if the call has no ID (phone number). Let your voicemail do your dirty work...NO MORE STRESSFUL PHONE CALLS.

I always ask them what there wearing it gets a click everytime

I am so disgusted with all the telemarketing phone calls especially the ones that tell me they are the IRS and I need to speak to them immediately. Or Rachel at credit card services telling me they can help me lower my rate, or some guy from a middle eastern accent telling me that they are Microsoft and my computer is at risk. Please! I have blocked them every time they call, but the problem is I can only block 20 calls and then I have to unblock them. I have filled out so many hundreds and hundreds of reports to the FTC. For a while, I actually believe it's stopped the scammers. But all the sudden all hell has broken loose and 95% of my home phone calls are from scam artists. Thank God they don't call my cell phone, because my family is the only one that will actually call it. I get no actual personal calls on my home phone at all. This is such an invasion of privacy, waking people up at all hours of night with the phone ringing, tying up my phone line that I am paying for with B.S. The FTC is useless, nothing is being done as we Americans are bombarded and there has to be a better way. FTC do something, if you can't do something then dissolve Outsource your company. I am so tired of having to spend hours and hours inputting data to the FTC which does nothing. All these phone calls that I keep reporting I have not received a dime from the FTC for process for prosecuting them. Why not? Why not? If you're Prosecuting them, and we report these numbers, why aren't we getting those fines that scammers have to pay for thousands of dollars?

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 numbers you don't recognize or look the number up first.

I get many many ghosted calls from numbers which show up in my caller ID as friends and contacts of mine. I call them back and they said they did not call me. Sometimes this happens 4 of 5 times within minutes. There is always silence, I was getting prank calls to which showed up as being from friends and when I answered I heard various messages from "Stop Your Dog from P**PING ON MY LAWN" to "Stop parking your car in handicapped spots"

Is there an app which can capture numbers that I call or call me on my my landline or cell phone then call me back within minutes of me calling them

You are being harassed,call your local police and contact your phone provider.

I have been registered with the do-not-call registry for some years now, but it only stops the more legit businesses, not the scammers. I still get unwanted calls. For a while, I was paying the fee to my phone company to find out the phone number that called and then reporting the unwanted call to the FTC. But after doing that for a couple years and still getting phone calls from the same places, I stopped reporting them. Now I settle for getting some cathartic release by cupping my hand around the phone speaker and screaming at the top of my lungs for a very long time and then hanging up before giving them a chance to respond (assuming they haven't already hung up on me). I get the last word (so to speak) and have vented my anger about the call.

You wasted your time coming here.

Ask them why all the people calling have fake caller id's. Go on. They'll tell you that isn't illegal...unless....(wait for it....)they then use that to commit a crime.

They tell you if you expect protection from government or law enforcement "there is an app for that. In fact there are several."

FTC is a joke.

You are on your own.

I agree. Just wastes our time complaining. They couldn't find Bin Laden either so why would we think they can stop spam.

Well, contacting someone who is in the Do Not Call Registry IS a crime. So they have used a fake ID to commit a crime.

I keep getting calls from local numbers or at least in the same state. The first two times it happened I called back but the numbers dont work. I answered one, there was silence, and then it hung up. It happens a few times a day now but the numbers are slightly different every time so not sure what I can do to get them to stop.

We've been getting lot's of robocalls for small business loans. I thought it was because I registered Webfia on yelp and google to provide SEO services in Fort Lauderdale, but I guess it's all scams. What's a good app to use to block robocalls?

If you’re getting repeated calls from the same number, your phone company may be able to block that number, but first ask whether there’s a fee for this service.

If you’re getting unwanted calls from a lot of different numbers, look into a call blocking solution. There are online call blocking services, call blocking boxes, and smartphone apps that block unwanted calls. Do an online search to look for reviews from experts and other users, and find out whether the service costs money.

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 get betweeen 6 - 10 calls a day from either Microsoft robocall telling me that there is a virus in my computer or 'credit card services' with a '2nd last chance' to lower my credit card interest rate! I have to almost answer all calls coming in because I have a home based business and DO get calls from all over the US and cell phones. This has become maddening. The DNC registry is a joke! Set up to give consumers a false sense of security. It does absolutely nothing for the consumer!

I'VE BEEN GETTING THESE CALLS, AT LEAST 3/4 TIMES A DAY. SOMETIMES MORE AND SOMETIMES WITHIN A FEW MINUTES OF EACH OTHER. I HATE THEM SO I PUT MY PHONE ON VIBRATE SO I DON'T HAVE TO HEAR THE RING AND I NEVER ANSWER. I JUST KEEP HOPING THEY'LL GIVE UP. AND THEY DO USE DIFFERENT PHONE NUMBERS, OR ANNONYMOUS OR THEY ALSO USED 00000.
6575

The FTC "Do not call" list is about as effective as any other government run program, which is to say, it isn't very effective at all. All of our numbers have been listed for years, and in the last two years I am getting more calls than ever. If I have to tolerate these calls anyway, I prefer not to pay for a broken program with tax dollars.

I get calls from multiple locations all day long leaving me robot messages. They call all day and I never answer and this has been going on for months and months, I am not willing ro give up a phone number i have had for over 16 years because of these people. I keep blocking their numbers and they just come up with new ones.

I get spam calls everyday. Anoying. I just started answer in Spanish," Quien Habla?" . They are usually middle eastern an cannot speak Spanish so they just hang up!

So what do you do if they are calling from an unknown number? I've been on the Do Not Call registry for 5 years and get scam calls daily. Now I have an unknown caller calling me 4 times day. I've demanded to know who they are. I've picked up and yelled at them to stop calling me. The only solution I can find is to PAY for an app to block them. I don't think I should have to pay to stop someone from calling me illegally. They almost always call when I'm in class and can't pick up the phone. One time they even called my hospital room! I'm so tired of this. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know. I have an iPhone 4S if it's helpful.

Please see our July 29, 2016 post, Looking to block unwanted calls?, for helpful tips.

Jully 3 2016 my phon voice call recording

I have been getting phone call everyday from politicians and telemarketing most of the time it is in the morning and late afternoons. Please change my number and stop all unwanted calls. Thank you.

The FTC can't change your phone number. To change your number, call the company that provides your phone service.

The "IRS" called 3 times today. left 3 messages saying I would be sued and this was the last notice. I've been getting these for months, never answer, and now they have become more frequent. Their number is: 626-840-8244.

I'm buying a new landline that has blocking capability, seemingly my only recourse. Also receive Telefund calls, twice a day now from 617-292-7701.

Do not call list is a total waste of time. All the phone numbers we use are on the list, yet the calls continue. Either get serious and put the people who violate the law in jail or repeal it.

So basically, try and avoid them, but if it happens you've got no advice for us. Typical government agency.

I never answer the phone from any number unless it is a number that I know and recognize. No exceptions, ever. After the phone stops ringing, I look up the number and 99.99% of the time I find that it has already been reported as a scammer. I then add that number to my call blocker. If the number appears legitimate, I don't call back that specific number. I will, however, call back a number that I know is legitimate for that particular company, but only if I've dealt with them in the past. If I've never dealt with them, I don't call them. I'm also on the "Do Not Call Registry". Scammers prey on your fear. There is nothing that is so important that you have to answer the phone from a number you don't recognize.

You can now dial *60 and store up to 25 unwanted numbers that call you on home phones. On iPhones just go back to the incoming call log and tap the far right side of the number you want to block and then scroll down to where it says BLOCK. Hope this helps.

I have been getting calls since August of 2015 from lenders and cash advance companies. I ask them to remove me from the list. The calls are from all over the country most are robo dial calls. The same message from different area codes. When I actually talk to a person they don't seem to know anything about the original call that connected me to them. So I am having a hard time back tracing the phone center distribution company. Not sure how to stop it. Need help.

800-902-4788 claims the IRS is going to sue me.

The 3-in-1 Home Security Systems (aka United Security) keeps calling me day and night with one of the following caller IDs over the past month. (1) 13865168469 (2) 13195191170 (3) 12109811407 (4) 13165308028 (5) 14243438298 (6) 14078741110 (7) 14308030538 (8) 15024969018 (9) 16123514669 (10) 16314083191 (11) 17018050475

My mom came out with this claim that you have to answer a call at least once before you can report it as spam. She sometimes gets things mixed up; she might be thinking about the issue that if you have a business relationship you can't stop them from calling say to offer services. Has anybody heard this one before the way my mother said it?

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