‘Tis the season for stopping robocalls

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Nothing puts a damper on the holidays like unwanted calls interrupting your day.

Maybe you’ve gotten one — you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person. Internet-powered phone systems have made it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal sales robocalls from anywhere in the world.

Fortunately, you have some options to block robocalls and other unwanted calls. Some are free and others cost money.

  • Check with your carrier about call-blocking services. Many carriers now offer services that block unwanted calls for wireless phones and for some types of home phones, too.
  • Try a call-blocking app. These apps use blacklists to weed out or flag unwanted calls and give you options about how to handle the calls — ringing through with a warning, going straight to voicemail, or blocking the call altogether. Many apps also let you flag additional numbers that should have been blocked, which helps improve the app. Some apps even use complaints to the FTC as a source of information.
  • Use features built into your mobile phone. These features can let consumers block specific contacts, identify unwanted incoming calls for future blocking, and set “do not disturb” hours.
  • Consider a call-blocking device for your home phone. Devices can be installed directly on a home phone.

During the last few years, the FTC has stopped billions of robocalls that offer everything from fraudulent credit card services to so-called auto warranty protection. We recently announced a case against a company offering allegedly bogus credit card interest rate reduction services.

If you get a robocall, hang up the phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it could lead to more robocalls.

Report your experience to the FTC online or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

This post was updated on December 18, 2017 with information on how to make a report to the FTC.

Tagged with: robocall, scam

Comments

Thank you very much, that's very helpful!

Any ideas on whether or not turn8ng the tables on who is harassing who would work on live people calling? I am constantly being bothered by a company who claims to be eager to send me a free sample of their product but they are too broke to afford shipping and need my money for 5 bucks on shipping.

It's not that they're too broke. They charge YOUR CARD the next month. A charge
that you don't recognize that you agree to purchase at the higher price.
This is wrong, Do Not reply to any offers
For shipping only. YOU'LL BE SORRY.

For months, every morning about 9, and every evening around 5, my phone rings just once. When curiousity got the best of me and I called the numbers recorded by my Caller ID there was no answer. If I don't recognize the caller or my Caller ID can't identify the source I do not answer. With rare exception, these callers never identify themselves and never leave a message.

If it's your cell phone you should be able to block the number.

There’s not enough time in the day to report all the robo calls we receive each day, when you take the time nothing is done despite being on the no call list, which is a joke

Good information - too bad more people don't have the ability to get these. But I pass them along to friends and family.

With caller ID, the solution is simple. If we don’t recognize the name or number, we don’t answer it. If it’s an important call, they can leave a message! We get very few messages.

Modern phone systems are so advanced, it's now very difficult, to almost impossible, to reach someone when you need to. When I learned friends and family members were screening calls and I'd hear them say, "I don't want to talk to him/her right now." Or, they'd lookup the area code on their iPad and say, "we don't know anyone in that area code" and not answer the call. If I left a message, it could take days B4 they would respond. I realized, If I ever needed urgent contact, and had to use an unfamiliar phone to call them, my calls would be ignored. So, I quit calling them all,

Really just came to know about Robocalls. I think I might have received robocall due to unawareness. Kindly name tha app for download & Install. Best regards. Ashraf

Would like to learn how to access the App. refered to in the post.

Read more about blocking unwanted calls and different types of apps available.  Some mobile phones have built-in features that allow you to block calls from specific numbers.

With caller ID spoofing, how is any of this useful information, other than just hang up?

I agree with DB. The amount of spoofed callerid calls I get is insane (sometimes multiple times a day.) I still get calls from the "IRS" saying they are going to send the police to my home. We need a way to provide instant and immediate feedback to a central source that can quickly track down numbers so that these illegal operations can be stopped. I have only seen these fake calls increase over time.

A better idea is to make it illegal to spoof calls, and phone companies should make it impossible to do. There are far too many numbers scammers can use to make reporting them be a solution.

I totally agree. Last week, I received 15 spoofed calls. This week I received 9 so far. Because of the volume of calls, I have turned off my ringer and answering machine. 98% of the calls I receive are these illegal calls. I am so tired of it. My telephone provider does not offer a service to stop all unrecognized unwanted calls.

Believe you have it right. 90% of the call volume is fake calls. Stop asking the customer to block these calls, when they can be blocked by the carrier, at some risk of losing revenue they would receive for "call deliver."

Not saying you are but the more you answer, the more they will call. When someone answers, and I believe it's even by sending the call to voicemail, the robot caller is alerted that the number dialed is a working number. Any time I get a call I just leave my phone alone and let it ring until it goes to voicemail. Then I block the number. After awhile the calls significantly decrease as mine have done.

My calls from sales and robocalls are ridiculous. They usually start at 8:00a.m. I have a left leg brace and a walker right now. It never fails if I try to walk away for two minutes the phone rings. Sometime I have almost fallen and I have a serious injury right now and.live alone and am so sick and tired of this. I never order anything on on phone. I'm just amazed at the amount of calls I get daily,and many of them hang up on me for trying to explain I already have insurance etc...m

Why bother to “explain”anything to these scammers or even be polite,since they are trying to rip you off. I often use very vulgar language to try and make their lives as miserable as they make others. Sometimes they get offended . . . which makes my day.

When a “contractor” calls, I ask the, for their state license number. I love the irony when they say they don’t give that information out over the phone.

Verizon charges for this service. I think it should be free from them, and the FTC should make the VOIP service providers pay the wireless carriers for this service, since the VOIPs are the ones who facilitate untraceable robocalls.

Completely agree. But I think it's extremely unlikely the current administration & majority of the current Congress would do anything that would cost corporations money so the public's life was easier.

A lot of the companies charge for the service. Sad that we have to pay to not get something we don't want. I just don't answer. One thing I have noticed recently is that we have several different exchanges and the robo calls are mostly the same exchange as the exchange on the phone they are calling.

I have call blocking thru Comcast but there is a limit on how many calls you can block! I've reached my limit!

Thank you for this information. Yes, I do not want scammers and robo calls. I have a disability that most of the time I get confused . I'm a totally easy target . I need to find ways to protect myself.

It’s simple don’t answer the phone unless you are absolutely sure who is calling.

Thanks-you are a great service for consumers!

One helpful tip is to look at the number that is calling you. If it is the same exchange as yours, then it is a guaranteed robocall. An exchange is defined as the first three digits after the area code. Do not answer these calls. Calls that have the same exchange are cloned phone numbers. I would also recommend that you do NOT return calls to these numbers.

Maybe the powers that be shouldn't have declared Open Season on phone customers. It would be great if the major phone service carriers/providers would program their systems to stop robocalls. Why should the consumer have to pay for a service or App when it could be avoided altogether?

Kind of like how consumers have to pay to freeze their information contained in the credit reporting companies, even Experian, the place that failed to protect the personal information of millions of people. Like we had a say in their collecting our information?

If I were to gather people's personal and credit information, then charged those people to not release it to others, I would be arrested for extortion and sent to prison.

Credit reporting services are extortion rackets and should be shut down, or at least not able to charge for freezing, permanently or temporarily, people's personal and financial information.

^AGREE

yep makes you wonder if the phone companies are in on the scam of robocalls ... i mean think ,they get paid for your calls in or out on the call by minute system , taxes and other charges as well !!!! ya think!!! Phones are a necessary evil in my line of work and all i can do is let the [no id] call go to voicmail or delete it immediatly !!! our system has us by the throat!!

Thanks to the FTC for keeping we consumers informed. It's much appreciated. Happy holidays!

I think the FTC should be recognized as a positive influence to consumers and thank them for their service.

If I receive a robocall, I do not hang up immediately, but rather lay the phone down and walk away. The longer the time the robocall takes, the more time is wasted and less time there is for more calls to be made. If everyone does that, it will greatly add cost and wasted time to the caller.

This works on a home phone ( landline ), beacuse it only costs the caller, in time and money. With some cell phone plans, the person being called is also being charged.

Block all robo calls

Caution: Leaving the telephone as an "open mic" to your home is unproductive. Robo already knows this trick. Best to hang up.

I am so sick of these calls even though we have our number on a do not call list! We now get a 1-800 number on our phone which is the same one we get any time we get a robo call, both on our personal and business line!

Why isn't there a law against spoofing a phone number? I have blocked "Rachel" at Card Services numerous times but all they do is use another spoofed number.

It seems like with the technology available, the FTC could do a much better job of tracking down and filing charges against originators of robocalls, especially the ones claiming to be the IRS. Couldn't the FTC just call them back and track down the number?

Thanks for the information. Robocalls are a nuisance. And thanks for everything that the FTC does to protect American consumers.

We receive robo-calls daily. They outsmart our caller ID display. 1)call comes from a local number 2) caller uses a person's name or name similar to a local business.

With caller ID, unless we KNOW the caller, we don't answer the phone.....if it's something important, the caller will leave a message.....and we'll pick up at that time. Robocallers NEVER LEAVE A MESSAGE!!

You are correct .I have been using the same do not answer unless I know you system and it works for me. You can text me and identify yourself if you are a friend or have something I want and I will return your call.

I have a blocker and get these local number calls that do not register. Sneaky business!

thanku for the info !

I bought a wireless phone package of 4 cordless phones that provide an audible call id, I program the telephone number and name. When the phone rings it will identify the caller eg John Jones calling. If number isn't in directory it announces telephone number. Here I let answering machine pick-up and decide if I want the call. Many robots calls will disconnect immediately when answering machine picks up. This phone will also announce "called blocked" if it is on list. Each phone allows you to hear messages and delete it. Each phone works independently so if I a away from the base phone I can hear the verbal info on each phone and I can block a number without contacting my carrier The best $90 investment

Not only do they use fake numbers but legit ones too and the real owner has no idea their number is being used in a scam. Also the same first three digits after your area code is usually used to give you a sense of false security. I wouldn't be surprised if my own number is being used in this same manner...

Very true! All of the robocalls I get use the same area code and 3 digit prefix as my own phone number. This is a clever technique the scammers use. Best thing to do is never answer a call from a number you do not immediately recognize. If it's truly important, they will leave a voicemail.

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