How to Block Robocalls
These calls are increasing, and they’re more than just annoying phone ads; they’re actually illegal. YouMail, a call blocking app, estimates there were more than 12 billion robocalls placed in the U.S. between July and September 2018. That’s a 60 percent increase from the same time frame last year, and it’s going to get worse. First Orion, a telecommunications company, predicts nearly half of all mobile calls will be spam by mid-year 2019.
Blocking a phone number does little to stop the calls, since many of them come from legitimate numbers that are “spoofed.” This means the call appears to come from a local number to trick you into thinking someone from your area code wants to talk to you. It’s not unheard of to see your own number calling you (this happened to me). Once you’re on the line, the con begins. Some scammers try and fool you into thinking you’ve won a prize; others pose as debt collectors, insurance companies, or the IRS.
The good news: there are plenty of ways to fight back.
Here’s What You Can Do
Join the Do Not Call Registry:
Register your number with the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry. Once you’re on the list, it takes about a month for most spam calls to stop. This won’t prevent legitimate robocalls from charities, political parties, or your doctor’s office, though. You’ll need to opt-out of those individually.
Screen Your Calls:
Check with your phone carrier to find out if they offer a call-blocking service or app—it may already be included with your phone plan. You can also manually block spammy numbers or download an app like YouMail. It uses advanced caller ID to screen and block unwanted calls for you.
If you suspect you’re being spammed, don’t answer the phone. If a spam call slips past your call blocker, picking up lets the scammer know your number is active and could lead to more calls. Let voicemail pick it up and call the person back later if it’s legitimate.
If you do accidentally answer a spam call, don’t speak, and don’t press any buttons to opt out. Again, this lets the caller know they’ve reached a working number. Some spammers have been known to record your voice and use it as part of a larger identity theft operation. Hang up and add the number to your block list or call-blocking app.
Can’t tell the difference between a spam or legitimate robocall? They sound similar. Listen here.