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‘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


I'm disappointed by the FTC's approach to fixing this is on the back-end. All of your advice is reactive. One person defrauds 500 people; you want those 500 people to initiate blocking. Let’s block at the source.

How about we do this: the FTC should be working with the major carriers who "deliver" these robo-calls, they should never be delivered, which gives you time to eventually fix at source. How, you say?

Phone numbers or exchanges are "assigned.” In a digital world, the digital signature includes the "source and the destination." While you can "mask" or fake the caller-id, you have the technology to "see" if the call is originating from a block of assigned phone numbers. If a phone number (source) is transmitting a caller-id that is NOT within the assigned block of phone numbers/exchange authorized, block the call. Maybe the carriers have a different rationale for doing nothing, maybe because the carriers collect a fee for delivery?

The technology has been around since the 90s, yet the FTC, FCC, and the carriers ask the customer to fix a problem that only the carrier/FTC/FCC can fix. Let’s stop asking the customer to fix the problem when a phone number "from" a spoofed 708 exchange can be validated in process as not having originated in a 708 exchange, therefore "block.” Don't let technology get in the way from using the tools that have been available for 20 years.

I received a fake call and waited on the line. A man with a European accent wanted to tell me that he was from Microsoft and their security team had detected a virus coming from my computer. I had a laptop running windows, he said. Of course, I responded, eager for his help. How thoughtful for Microsoft to reach out from their busy day to call me. How could I say no?

After 30 seconds, I grew tired, and said I know this is a scam; you’re most likely on an automated dialer system that will only disconnect when the calling party hangs up. So, I’m going to waste your time by leaving this call up all day. The fraudster drops his act and says to me “you think you can waste my time, prove it.”???? I kept the line open for four hrs while I called the police, Verizon, ATT, FTC, and FCC, via a separate line, none of which would/could do anything. Verizon was the worst, can't help you without a court order, and I had the fraudster on the line. All did nothing. Each pointing to the other agency. It was sad. No deed goes unpunished, as the fake calls, fake emails from “.ru” increased about 100 fold for the next 30 days, what a rush of retaliation.

The FCC asked me if I had any spoofing numbers to report, and I had plenty. I push all spoofing calls to a contact marked “fake caller,” save the number, and then mark the call to block. I have hundreds of numbers, and the federal agent got tired after 20, and said, that’s enough.

Stop asking the customer to bear the burden of an issue, which should be resolved in transit. Even an IP call has a source, destination, and caller-id in the packet. Inspect the packet and deny the call in process. Don’t burden the 90-year-old person with “your” the FBI, IRS, or whomever, and a subpoena has been issued, or this is your last chance before an arrest warrant is secured. Stop this baloney, and fix at source. And if you want some help, I’m here as a volunteer.

It’s not like I’m an electrical engineer, network, telephony, white hat, or security aware person – or maybe I am.

John F

Good information! But, what about filling complaint on the "Do Not Call" list. Is that list any affective or good??? Unfortunately, it has not stopped our Robo calls.

It is helpful when you report unwanted calls to the Do Not Call list. When you report illegal calls, we will take the phone numbers you complain about and release them each business day. This helps telecommunications carriers and other industry partners that are working on call blocking solutions.

Many call blocking tools rely on blacklists. Those are databases of phone numbers that have been reported as the source of illegal calls. Companies will be able to use the information we release to help identify which calls should be blocked or flagged.

I must haave missed something. I was looking for ways to stop these calls, procedures or Apps. Help

Laws to prevent robocalls are hard to take action on which I realize, but the government judicial branch should go after them one at a time. Any Countries not taking action to stop should be censored to make all incoming and outgoing calls to the US or Allies very hard to get to go outside their country..In other words, start with one robocaller and put them in jail, then go after another, etc...The message inf intolerance needs to be clear to all who would abuse...

You should be insisting the cell phone providers give their customers call blocking etc for FREE because of all this. If we want it, we have to pay monthly for it. This isn't our fault, it's not something we should be charged to prevent. The 3rd party block apps... who knows if those are even legit, why wouldn't the FTC provide links to legit ones so we can download them knowing they are safe. These apps ask for your cell number... if they aren't legit apps, we could be giving our cell number to a company that does those calls! We get so many it's ridiculous and we block one but then it comes up 5 min. later on a similar number. We aren't even in that area code anymore and we get them continuously! And I'm on Do Not Call, I'm even registered for junk mail but get tons a day. It's all junk mail, we hardly get legit mail since we have gone paperless to avoid mail delivery. What a world!

I receive 5 or 6 calls daily on my cell phone and about the same on my landline. Sometimes at 9 or 10 pm.

Thank you very much. This is very useful. My elderly mother needs this info.

I open and check a number to see if it's reported by others - I then report it. I also would like the feds to FORCE Verizon & other companies to block these type calls. Enough already, just do it, DO YOUR JOB! If we don't/didn't do our job we would be FIRED!

I am really disgusted they have asked for some person I do not know and have gotten extremely vulgar with me. I am getting calls from + yes that is the number I continue to not answer block and national do not call paid block service still I have gotten as many as 75 calls in a day. If the government knows about this please someone explain why it can't be stopped...

Nearly forgot I will be using much of the info I have found on this site some I have been using others unaware of I am certain this will be curtailed I just get flustered as to why I should have to deal with this to begin with. What about those elderly people who don't have this type of access and fall prey it is upsetting at best. Ty FTC...

Is ignoring the only option for harassing phone calls? I currently don't want to ignore because I get so many legit calls from numbers I don't know. Does turning the table on who is getting harassed work?

Robo can't be stopped. But, who would buy from a stranger? How profitable can it be? There must be plenty of reasons to robo but profit from? Isn't robo just another nefarious surveillance scheme?

You need to prevent these telemarketers from using fake caller id's. We need to make it illegal. The phone companies will not do it since they make money off of the callers - just Greed!

Thank you, FTC for these timely and important messages.

Why don't phone manufacturers create a phone number blocking button on the phone? Get a robo or unsolicited call, just press the phone number blocking button and the previous number is blocked.

I hope those of you complaining about the "IRS" and other calls are reporting these to FTC.

I save the number and name it ROBO. Then I know to not answer on repeat calls from them that show on my caller ID. This doesn't stop the calls but at least I know to not pick up to answer.

We had all those calls all the time, especially a few #s that wpuld call all day long for someone that doesnt even live here. So we got a device that you can block the calls we love it its called CPR.. if some are still looking i would check it out , it's been so quiet in our house it's crazy , it will still show up that they called but you don't hear the ring which is a god send !!!!

I have checked my fone manual and found out how to block calls...after 2-3 tries they have stopped!!!!

Xfinity home service offers free robo call blocker.

I answer them with " Police Department how can we help you." For some reason they just hang up and don't call back.

I'm a 69yo retiree w/health issues, btw my background was in mainframe systems development and project mgmt. I get these calls several times a week, in spite of being signed up with the AT&T U-verse recommended service [] which captures some of the calls, others I hang up and dial *61 to place spam calls on my home phone#'s call blocking list. If caller-id displays UNAVAILABLE, TOLL FREE CALL, INVALID NUMBER, or a name I don't recognize, I don't answer, then either *61 the number or try calling the number from my cellphone--esp. in the case of an unfamiliar name. A large number of these callback attempts result in "Disconnected, or Not in Service" recordings--which I take as an indication of "Spoofing". The bottom line is, my having to do this is personally disturbing; does not help my health conditions; I don't receive a penny for my time spent having to deal with these con artists; such criminals do not abide by the DO NOT CALL list I signed up for; and to my way of thinking, should be tracked and brought to justice by the telecom providers (AT&T, etc.) whose services I pay a significant chunk of my fixed monthly income. This phenomenon has produced a chilling effect on my level of comfort in using what used to be a relatively secure and non-threatening public utility (POTS), and as such, considering the immense financial losses annualy suffered by the vulnersble consumers who naively fall for the elaborate sophistication of technologically leveraged phone scammers, the best efforts of the FCC and Homeland Security should focus on assisting the "deregulated" telecoms in engaging and defeating this form of terrorism which directly touches more of our population than will ever be actually confronted by an active shooter or a lone wolf bombing.

What if you were scammed this yr i am missing 5500 dollars i have a narrative report all of my western union receipts and names and numbers what can i do to get my money back and forward my narrative to get these people taken care of.

If you lost money to a scammer between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017 and you paid by Western Union, you can file a claim to get money back. You must file a claim by February 12, 2018. Go to to start the process.


If you lost money after January 19, 2017 and you aren't eligible to file a claim, you can report the scam to the FTC at The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. 

You could also contact your State Attorney General's Office , or call the Western Union Fraud Hotline at 800-448-1492.

Even when I block a Robocall they call back with a different number. I believe our cable provider sold our number to telemarketers and others this is the reason for the increase.

The number of calls increased dramatically recently after getting on the no-call list. Multiple calls each day from local businesses (which are fake) and from Unknown Name - also using local numbers. What a nuisance. Makes me want to get rid of my landline because I've only received a few so far on my cell phone.

I get calls from Rachel about how confusing Medicare and what not are not easy to understand. I hang up before I hear much more. What is even worse, the phone numbers are all different and sometimes Unknown comes up. I also get so many on my cellphone, and I block them only to get the same caller from a different number. Something needs to be done about this.

I appreciate the services you provide and the advice you have for all land line users. However, you advise land line customers to deal with robo calls, etc, most which come with a cost to customers. You have the power to REQUIRE providers to provide this service. You must have been sleeping when you allowed solitious phone calls to our cell phones in addition to our land lines. Prosecution, fines, and jail terms would put a stop to all offenders; advertisers, charity, and others included. And don't let prividers claim their is nothing they can do bout offshore callers. I do appreciate the services you do provide. Buyer beware policy should be revisited. Oversight is necessary, but so is enforcement

I did contact my landline carrier. I was receiving 8 to 12 calls a day. My carrier told me how to block using special code. Hooray, I thought. I found out in 2 days that the call block was only good for a limit of 25 calls. To block more, I needed to "clear" all previous calls to add 25 more. What a waste of time. The 1st calls blocked started calling again within 5,maybe 6 days. What a fool I am.

I contacted my local phone provider. I have a land line connected to a modem and the provider can't seems to block unwarranted because it registered as a cell phone. Something towers.

Depending on your phone service, you can try checking www. nomorobo. com I have it on my land line and it works great. Phone rings once and then it disconnects.

I don't understand how any of these unwanted calls make money, on any of the "services" they say they are calling about. The I.R.S. scam may work occasionally but I don't see where it would work enough to make it continue. Same with any of the Credit calls etc.
They must make enough money to not only continue but they actually seem to be growing.
Also they seem to support many, many employees so there must be a profit. It seems like they could be stopped by the phone company's easier if they kept track of the numbers by complaints taken.

I have recently blocked 50 robocalls. Most of these are showing my Town, ST as an ID. My area code-877-XXXX. Everyday at least 2 come in with 877-but 4 different #'s I have tried calling these back and a couple of times actually got a person (poor thing had no idea, because they did not make the call!) Recently, calling back just gets a not in service message. I block individually on my phone but see this continuing indefinitely. I am on Do Not Call listing.

There are so many apps to choose from - any recommendations? Also, how to you black list calls that go directly to voice mail - they don't show on my call log?

This FTC article about blocking unwanted calls has ideas about some options.

tell the caller to hold on you are interested but need to get your credit card. then never come back. good waste of their time holding on the phone.

Hate this spam calling along with back to back of same number. Only use a tracfone so I can only silence the idiot calling. Will never answer, but so annoying.

all i do is if i dont reconize no i dont answer if its important leave message . if they call 2x no message i block the number period

I block calls that i dont know that call more than once and dont leave a message. I dont answer a call i dont reconize either. i too get calls every day

Someone needs to develop a system to detect robo-callers and download a debilitating virus to their systems.

My cell phone number was hijacked and used to make robo-calls. Received calls from people saying they were returning my calls. So hard to catch these folks. I am on do not call list, it means nothing. Like others, if I don't recognize the number I don't answer.

Go to this website .nomorobo. com read their stuff and then try to set it up on your phone (I think that there are some phone carriers that it doesn't work on). I've been using it (free!) for years and it does block a lot of calls (we get a single ring and then their system kicks out the call). Still get a few that slip few, but many many more robocalls are blocked.

It should be illegal to spoof!

I got a pic message on the PCH app as I opened up the APP from clicking on my sms alert/notification from the PCH APP it's said $10,000,000 prize alert urging me to click on "I want my funds. this is the 2nd time it happened. I want a FALSE advettisement/scam lawyer. This is sad. I have the screenshots l

I just don’t answer if the number is not in my contact list. I have been told that if you pick up, they get paid, whether or not you talk. I wonder if that is true? Even if the number is blocked, can they still get paid. Not sure how that works.

Blocking is not an option because I am job searching. We need to work to make Spoofing numbers illegal - I will be contacting my Representatives.

I am getting numerous robot calls eery day despite do not call registry, they trick you with local numbers so you will answer, call without showing on I'd to remind you your credit card payment is overdue knowing you paid it. I have received at least 9 calls or more in the last hour alone.

Blocking doesn't really work because the caller ID avoids it by showing random numbers or city names.

I find it hard to believe that telecoms, especially working together, don't have the technology to track down spoofed caller ID's. Not that I would actually expect the Trump administration to do anything that benefits consumers if it gets in the way of maximizing telecom profits (see, net neutrality) but it seems like there should be a way to stop robocalls at the telecom level by requiring them to track down the CID spoofers or face fines.

Even if the tech to do this isn't online right now, the threat of substantial fines against the telecoms is likely to result in its very rapid development.

I was getting early morning calls and late calls. I finally answered my phone early and late if I did not recognize the phone number "Weathering Heights Police Dept, What is your emergency. Guess what happened, You guessed it calls have stopped.


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