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've registered for "DO NOT CALL" and I receive at least one call per day for the $1,000,000 Jamaican Lottery. If the area code is 876, I don't answer. The caller NEVER leaves a message. Just the 4 rings are annoying.

Don't ever answer a call from Jamaica. There is a law in their country that allows them to reverse the charges without your permission. A lady I knew with dementia ended up with a $12,000 phone bill. AT&T removed the charges, but she still had a bill in Jamaica. Even after she was moved into a home, they kept calling her. Be very careful with numbers from Jamaica.

I keep getting recorded calls that this company has court papers to send me for an unpaid payday loan....they threaten me with being federally charged and then civil case too. They say I can settle today and pay a reduced amount. the awful part is they are calling my mother, sister and father and it is causing strain. I have googled the three different numbers and they all say scam and people tell same story. They hang up on me if I get upset with them...I told them one call to go ahead and file but then they call again the next day. What do I do!

You can report the company to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint and to your state Attorney General’s office.

If you know the phone numbers the calls are coming from, you may be able to block the calls. You don't have to answer the calls. Sometimes, when you answer a recorded call (a 'robocall') and talk to the person or press a number, it leads to more calls.

You might have call blocking features on your phone or answering machine, or you can ask your phone service provider about options.

 

I have been receiving calls from the same number for weeks that is a "robo call" but that says papers are being filed against me. I am not the person that they are trying to reach. I didn't look at my caller ID, as I was expecting a call. So I listened to the robot & it stated to press any key to speak to someone if I was the person they were trying to reach or if I was not the person that they were trying to reach so that they could deal with the matter efficiently. I pressed the button and explained to the person on the phone that I did not know this person and would like to ensure that they would remove my #. I am disabled from a rare syndrome that only one place in the U.S. deals with & it's literally across the country from me. So sometimes their calls are from different numbers & I need to be able to take their calls. I explained that I am quite sick and would like my # to be taken off from this issue. The man I spoke to was rude, refused to give me the name of the company,actually made fun of me because I said that I wasn't well. He just started saying oh yeah we get a lot of "sick" people who are liars, I live in Maine but I am from the south & due to this when I am angry, I get very "proper" in the way I talk. I again just redirected him to removing my # please. He would not allow me to speak as he continually spoke over me. I finally just quit talking & he stopped. I asked if he was done? At that point I stated I would like to speak with a supervisor to ensure that I was not going to be harassed. He said sure, then he said hello, you asked to speak with a supervisor. I said yes, the one above you. He laughed and said he was the highest. I stated that there is always someone above you. Again laughter, my husband is a supervisor for a large cell phone company and there is always someone above, did you think I was that uninformed? He said that he thought whatever medication I was on had apparently made me confused. I asked again for the company's name and got more abuse from him, and he refused to give me his name. I told him that he was rude,& I would like to speak with someone else, & through the whole call he had been making sniffing & snorting noises, he asked why I wanted to speak to someone else & I said because I know that you are wearing a headset & the booms are very sensitive to sound, and he apparently was sick because of all the snot he kept sucking back up & it was affecting his cognitive skills. He stated no, he was quite good at his job and that he was getting paid to be on the phone so we could just continue to talk. I said that would be fine, but I needed to speak to someone who is actually able to do the job correctly, as my 3 years old granddaughter had more sense than he did, he hung up at that point. I KNOW I should have just said that they had the wrong # in their files & disconnected the call. With my husband being a supervisor in a call center, I know that they make notes in their computer systems & that if a person calls in, and is not happy with the answers they get will call back & ask for a supervisor. They are usually transfered to the person that took their last call, according to the notes in the system & considered "proof" they were talking to the supervisor. So, knowing this, when the representative answered the call, I spoke politely & asked him if I could get the address of the company & was told they could not give out that information, which is a huge red flag. There is always an address. I said okay & asked if I could speak to the supervisor & I assured him that it had nothing to do with him, as he had been very professional. He thanked me & asked if he could place me on hold in order to get me to the supervisor & I said sure, but could I get the supervisors name 1st, and he gave it to me and proceeded to transfer me & he transferred me to the person I had spoken to before & I knew that he was very aware who was calling him. I just stated that he had just kept me on the phone with him for absolutely no reason, he could have given me his name & his company's name & been off the phone with me. However the representative that just took my call was definitely more logical because he was able to give me the companys name and that of the person he was transferring me to with out any issues that he had in our prior conversation. He kept trying to talk over me, again, until I finally (I have 5 grown children and realized that he needed to be talked to like a child) l increased my voice to say ENOUGH! You are literally acting like a 2 yr old throwing a tantrum! You are at work & need to be professional, Mr. Adam Fortis. I will now be disconnecting this call, oh & just some advice from now on, that is the proper way to disconnect a call with any one, but especially at work. It's really showing that your manners & professionalism are lacking, since you seem to believe hanging up on someone is appropriate. Have a good day Mr.Fortis.

I apologize for basically giving a play by play of a call that should have never happened. I know better & if I get calls such as this one, I block the number. I get tired of their voice-mails & thought this would be an easy way to stop them as they call multiple times a day. They do not care who you are or what you are saying - as he said I can stay on the phone with you, I get paid hourly to do so. Sorry again for the rant. Just block their numbers if you can do so.

I rather enjoyed reading your story. It's nice to know I'm not the only one being so rudely harrased and frustrated with telemarketers. I had a similar experience, but I wished I had handled my situation the way you did yours. You stayed calm for he most part. And you were smart to call back and get his name and info like that. When I tried to call back I got the same person 3 times in a row, and then it went to voice-mail 3 times and then I got a different person, who was just as rude as the first. And they kept hanging up on me! I was just calling back trying to see why they would call me everyday multiple times a day just to hang up when I say hello? They would say your number is removed from our system and hang up. But it's been happening since I got a new number 3 years ago. The Same company keeps calling me looking for some miguel guy. Im like im not even a dude, or spanish I keep telling you people I don't who who your looking for. But then they threaten me saying I'm harassing them! Because I kept calling back when they would hang up on me! It just amazes me how people can be so mean to others. And I'm sorry that guy made fun of you being sick. That was un called for in any circumstance. But you know what they say, what goes around comes around... I will take your advice tho and block the number so I don't get any more calls... and I was also reading that putting your name on the national do not call list doesn't work because it's an open list that anyone has Access to... anyone.

Ha! I got calls asking for a "Miguel" too. This guy could not understand that NO MIGUEL LIVES HERE!! When he asked if I was sure then I replied, " yeah, I'm lying to you - he lives under my bed!" and hung up. PRESTO! No more calls for MIGUEL!

Their purpose is to get you to say "yes or yeah"... they can record over conversation and re-record asking is it OK to charge to your phone number and Presto... they got your voice saying "yeah"

Wow commuter girl.
I'm glad for stumbling across your comment. The treachery today is out of control!!!!

Definitely sounds like a scammer to me, Helium1117. I don't waste my time with calls such as the one that you described in your post. Anytime it's a robocall, you can be 99.5% sure that it is not legitimate. I have also received calls where the scammer leaves an email in my voicemail stating that "I owe the IRS money and in order to avoid going to court I must call back ...... etc, etc." The IRS does not call. The IRS does not email. If one owes the IRS, the IRS will use snail mail to inform. I have also had the famous "payday loan" scammers call and try to pull a fast one .... which is super easy for me to determine it's a scam because I have never taken out a payday loan. I usually don't answer phone numbers that I don't recognize; however, on occasion, I have answered because I was anticipating a business call and was not sure what phone number they would be utilizing to call. On those occasions, if it was one of these "robocalls" and/or some scammer, I just merely hung up promptly without uttering one syllable. I don't want to encourage these clowns, so I just don't speak to them at all. It is ashamed that these scammers bother people, especially someone who is not well. So sorry to hear about the harassment that you have encountered. They can be quite aggravating for sure. Just remember "not to feed these clowns" ... meaning do not talk to them.

I get very similar calls every so often. I can almost guarantee it is a genuine debt collection agency that believes you owe money to a creditor or you know or are related to in some way the real person that actually owes the debt.

The last time I got a recorded message threatening to file papers against me I called the number given and played along politely until I got the information I needed. I believe the person I reached was new and accidentally told me more than he should have. It turned out the person they were seeking had the same last name and the last address they had for him was in the area where I live. After some digging I found out what was going on.

When someone owes a creditor money and skips out of town they make some attempt to locate them. If after a period of time they can't find this person they "sell" the debt to another collection agency for pennies on the dollar, and this agency starts from scratch with their own investigation, most likely calling the same people the first one did.
In my case this persons debt must have been substantial and sold numerous times because the calls would come from a different collection agency each time.

Technically they are not breaking any laws because they have a legitimate right to seek out a bad debt they have acquired.
If you explain you are not the person and have no knowledge of where they can find this person they will cross you off their list and not bother you again.

It is most likely when the debt is sold to another agency they don't tell them what people they have contacted already that were dead ends so the new agency starts from scratch and the process starts all over again. Hopefully, at some point, they will give up finding this person and the calls will stop.

Helium: Ive wondered about people who answer Because they're waiting for an important call. My uncle was dying & waiting for that call kept getting scam calls. Researching this issue has said NEVER answer a call from number you dont recognize and NEVER push any number to get off their call list. That idiot you had was just amusing himself. How Id love to meet one of these idiots in person...Id bet they're not all that tuff then. ;-)

What can anyone do to get the fake "US Online Pharmacy" TO STOP CALLING ME? INCESSANTLY MANY TIMES A DAY FROM COMPUTER GENERATED FAKE NON EXISTENT PHONE NUMBERS. It is driving me crazy!

I get the same thing and each time its a different name and different number but all from online medical supply....american pharmacy supply etc. Did you ever get yours resolved?

If they call you you made an order likely during the past 5 to 7 years. They are relentless. I have threatened them well over a dozen times. They do not make "clean" Meds- all I can say is threaten them that you plan to sue them for harassment.

How can we follow up to see the case after we report the violation

If you report a problem to the FTC and you give an email address, you will get an email reply that says we got your complaint. Once you report a problem, the information goes into a secure database that law enforcement agencies use for investigations. The FTC doesn't handle individual cases; it uses information and shares it with other law enforcement agencies to build cases.

If you give your contact information in your report, a law enforcment agency may contact you if it needs more information about the company or scam you reported. A law enforcement agency might contact you when it is getting ready to file a case against a company, or has settled a case against a company.

FTC just another Worthless government agency
I signed up for home and cell in 1990's and they have done no good
I saw shut them down

I Agree they do nothing nor does law enforcement have the time or resources to follow up for complaints.

These people call all the time. Told them to remove me, but they will not. I'm on the do Not Call list, but doesn't seem to matter. Their number is:800-814-4345

Last Friday this happened to me, plus they called my brother looking for me and asking questions and today they called my husbands cell looking for me. The lady said there's a serious claim against me and not to hang up and she wanted to transfer me to someone that could help me. I told her she was full of it and I hung up. She called me back 3 times and left messages before calling my brother. I've since blocked her. She had a lot of my personal information that she gave to my brother and my husband, it's scary, talk about feeling violated. She's putting in a lot of time chasing me down, makes no sense.

I have to agree with you that it doesn't make any sense. If this happened to me, I would seriously feel violated. I also have many random numbers calling me that I have no idea who they belong to. The people that call sometimes don't leave a message. I don't have a call blocking app on my phone and I can't exactly go to phone store to block them due to being busy all the time, so I am just left with getting frustrated.

Now its getting scarey. Im so tired of the calls I did try to avoid answering. Last week, weird no. ALMOST didn't answer. It was monitoring co. for mother's heart defibulator alerting us she was v fibbed in her sleep and get her to ER asap. I wish so bad the government could hire a team to trace VoIP like guy in India Thakkar, known as "Shaggy," was said to be making more than 10 million rupees ($155,000) a day, or over a million dollars per week, at the scam's peak.

That is scary. As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. I recommend (1) tell the caller to send you their claim info in writing and stop calling you, and log the date/time of your request. (2) Log ALL calls' phone number(s) and date/time, and ask your family members to do the same. (3) When you or a family member receives a call, tell them to stop calling and hang up. You told them to mail it, right? (4) At this point you'll have evidence: your calls log. Go on your state's Attorney General website to read how to file a complaint. (5) Write your statement of facts, that is, the callers' statements to you as to why their calling, threats made, family members contacted, your instructions to the callers to mail you their claim, and your call logs and your family members' call logs. (6) Send you complaint to the AG. (7) Call the FTC 1-877-FTC-help OR post your statement with the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint (on mobile phone, search for FTC complaint assistant). Include your email address. They will email you a confirmation and later, any resolution. If you think this is too much work, well, these calls will NOT STOP until YOU stop them. You're not helpless. Go get 'em!!

How do you block a caller from a cell phone? He calls at least five times a day but when I answer, hangs up. I called the number and a man said "Hello" so it's no a sales pitch. Probably someone who doesn't know what o do with his time, but I want him off my phone.

The same things has happened to me from all different numbers for over a year now. I just stopped answering all calls that are not saved as a contact in my phone because I got so tired of being harassed and the callers get nasty when you argue with them about how the call is a scam and a lie.

I keep getting calls with different area codes at least 3 a day. Because I have an on-going real estate ad running across country I answer all calls in the event it's in response to my ad only to find that it's a call selling Cialis, Viagra.

I have been getting the same damn calls! They say that if I don't call back by the end of the day something will happen. The voicemails say there are "multiple allegations against me" but they can help me settle them. I have blocked them and now they call my family. I am getting so tired of them harassing me and family!

I get the same thing. It started when I was or went through the process of buying my house.

I actually had this call and I'm normally pretty hip to scams but I fell for it, they had my COMPLETE ss number, mailing address, maiden name all my personal info and what lead me to believe it was real was the woman told me she was a server from my (said the actual township) local county courtwith a warrant in my name. They quoted an actual account that I had 10 years ago so I really thought it was legit. The said I could avoid going to court of i pay over $1,000 today. This was the worst scam call i ever received, thankfully I was smart enough to call my local court and had them look up of their were any warrants in my name which there were not. Beware they are getting seriously getting some private info.

I had one call me my brother got him all nervious calln me sayn these ppl are saying thy are on way with a investagator. .thy knew all my past names ,family etc

I had the same people call me today and at work no doubt, i burst into tears freaking out, i really thought i was in trouble. These people need to be held accountable for doing this!

You will NEVER EVER EVER receive a phone call if you are truly in some sort of criminal trouble meaning there is a warrant or something like that. These people are SCUM!!! They scare people with no knowledge of how the criminal justice system works. If you get a call saying you have a warrant or are being investigated bur you can pay us now to clear it up just hang up!!

Screen ALL calls and only answer the ones you recognize. Scammers use most folks innate curiosity to get them to answer, hence repeated calls. let them go to voice mail. Only call back those you know, simple.
Let people you know who will be calling you what is up, family, doctors etc. When you stop answering chances are you will stop getting the unwanted calls. Your telephone number is sold and/or passed around just like an email would be among scammers.

Good advice riCK. Too bad more people were aware of this. I never fell for those calls, and of course I have my answering machine answer these unknown callers. Of course they autodialers then hang up, rarely leaving a message.
It's still annoying because of the countless telemarketing scammers that call my home phone, fill up my caller ID and the dead silence before the hangup, fills up my answering machine. I have to keep deleting these blank messages, the numbers on my caller ID, and the countless interruptions of checking my Caller ID to see who is calling...Grrr.

I've been getting calls from a private number that I can not block.This all started today February the 7th 2017.Ive have gotten multiple calls from the caller.I have answered none for fear that they are a bad person or some one dangerous that can track my phone and try to harm me.I had a dream about something like this but a little different and now I feel scared.Ive never encountered something like this.I have only had my phone for a few days and do not like what is happening.I have 2 other friends who have been also getting calls from a private number.Please help.I don't know what to do!

Carrie, don't panic. You state you just got the phone, if it is an iPhone click the info button to the far right of the caller's name (not sure if there will be one on a private number, but click it if there is) and scroll down and you can block the number. If it is a different kind of phone look up how to block callers. You are right not to answer. DON'T get curious. usually they will just give up after a while. It is a battle of wills. Yes, it is creepy, but trust me that you are not their only target and if you don't ever answer it won't be worth their while to keep trying. Tell your friends the same thing, just don't answer the calls. Good luck!

I started doing that several years ago. If I don't recognize the #, I don't answer it. If its that important they will leave a voicemail.....It takes awhile and is aggravating as hell but I do it anyway

I'm getting the same issue I wish they would go away!!!!

I get phone calls off and on anything of the day. They are from all over Ore, NM, Ct, NY, MA, Al, Unknown, 0000000000, 111100000 how the hell can this be stopped? My phone is a track phone iPhone so I can't call a carrier as I pay by the month. But I'm getting really annoyed and pissed as to how my number keeps being called. How can I stop these calls?

The same thing is happening to me! 3-4 of these calls each day. There has to be a way for the government to crack down on this crap. I've done everything they tell me to. I haven't answered but want to just to see what the company is so I can report them but the FCC says not to. WTH?

I got 10 calls within 1 hour all from different numbers. Everytime I block one they call from a different one. These people are making me crazy.

you can report them to the attorney general's office in your state

So true. I got a call from a man in Jamaica claiming I won the publishers clearing learning house sweepstakes. I knew obviously that it was a scam. They want you to call a certain number back that they supply you. It's the same person pretending to be someone else. I called back to give false info and waste their time. It charged my tmobkle account around $70.00 . TMobile took off the charges thankfully. These scammers are scum sucking leeches.

I've registered on the DO NOT CALL LIST too. I never received conformation that I was on the list and I still get Spam calls and voice mails. Yesterday I received 3 with voice mails (IRS Scam) East Indian speaking person (woman) these calls were about 1 hour apart. Today I received same thing from different number and mans voice again East Indian. It seems that Our Government should do more than suggest getting a call blocker app. Or reporting EVERY Spam Call, like I have time to do that. I don't think Our Government really cares. I pay over $250 a month for 3 cell lines. This didn't start until about Feb-March of 2015 about the same time Premera Blue Cross had over 11 million (IIRC) personal records stolen coincidence? I don't know but kind of strange.

I've been on the DNC Registry for two years and on average, receive 40-50 unwanted calls per month from political parties, Pro-Life, security companies, etc. This is MY phone, and no business should be able to call my number without my express permission. These exemptions are asinine; if I don't want to be bothered by calls, why should I have to tolerate them? Do Not Call is basically, call and irritate the recipient on a daily basis. Change the rules to block ALL calls except from businesses with whom you have an established relationship.

I have often thought the same thing. I would like a phone where I can input safe numbers, and those are the ONLY ones allowed to ring through.

I don't want phone calls or texts from him.

The latest: Even private, unpublished landline phone numbers with Call Block can't block so-called "spoof numbers," according to AT&T. How pathetic and useless is that, when you pay for Call Block, but it doesn't work when you need it!!! Currently, a robo-caller named "The Prophet Ezekiel" (I kid you not), has been leaving long annoying sermons on my voicemail from various phone numbers apparently within my area code. But those numbers cannot be Call Blocked!! There has to be recourse when you pay the phone company for an additional feature that does not work. Advice, please.

There is a feature from Verizon (landline phone)called "Do Not Disturb" which allow you to allow only certain calls through like family or doctors. All others receive a does not want to be disturbed message.

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