How to Stop Robocalls From Breaking Your Focus
By Pekin Insurance · Apr 28, 2020 ·2 min read
Your phone buzzes. You glance at the screen and sigh. It's another call from a mystery number, so you let it go to voicemail.
Robocalls are a pain in the you know what. Stay with us, and you’ll have a better chance of stopping robocalls from breaking your focus.
What Are Robocalls and Who's Fighting Them?
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), robocall scammers dial millions of numbers per day. Sometimes, these scammers use nothing more than a laptop and cheap software to do it. Their goal is to con you out of your personal and financial information.
It’s annoying and costly. According to Security Magazine, Americans lost an estimated $10.5 billion from phone scams in 2018.
These telemarketers harass you and say you:
- Qualify for a guaranteed government grant.
- Won an international lottery, but you have to give them $100.
- Should send money to someone posing as a family member.
- Qualify for an advanced loan.
- Could make big bucks working as a secret shopper.
- Are charged with crimes you didn’t commit in a state you didn’t visit.
The FTC is finding and prosecuting criminal callers, though litigation doesn’t seem to slow them down. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to update their rules to fight spam calls.
In 2019, the telecommunications industry was supposed to roll out technology to identify potential spoofed calls. That didn’t happen, so now the FCC is working on a proposal that could force carriers to implement the technology by June 2021.
You might wonder how to stop robocalls without help from government agencies or huge companies. We’re glad you asked!
The best rule of thumb is this FCC recommendation: Never, and we mean NEVER, answer calls from unknown numbers.
When you answer bogus calls, you let scam artists know that:
- Your line is active.
- You’ll probably pick up the next call, too.
You also need to look out for a text-based scheme called smishing. With this scam, someone sends you a message and poses as your bank, Google, the IRS, or someone else. They ask you to respond to the text or follow a link.
Don’t do either of these things! You could allow a criminal to install information-collecting malware on your phone. Delete the message and report it to your cell phone carrier.
Not all robocalls or confirmation texts come from criminal schemes. You could still get robocall reminders or texts from your doctor, dentist, or any business that confirms appointments.
Do Not Call Registry
If you don’t want unsolicited calls or texts, the FTC encourages you to put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. This might reduce the scam calls you get, but criminals don’t care much for legalities.
There’s a good chance they’ll continue doing what they do.
After you put your name on the National Do Not Call Registry, you could receive perfectly legal calls from:
- Debt collectors
- Political groups
Contact Your Service Provider
Your wireless carrier probably offers a service to help you manage robocalls and block numbers. You have a limited amount of numbers to block, though.
Prices and features vary, but Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint offer expanded call-screening services for their customers. These services could change if the FTC follows through with forcing carriers to offer free call screening.
Turn to Call-Blocking Apps
You can get lost in all the call-blocking apps out there.
Start your search with these call-blocking and security apps that appear on several “best of” lists:
Talk to Your Parents and Kids
Telemarketers prey on the elderly, but they don’t stop there. They call you and say they’ve kidnapped your kids.
These scammers don’t care about the mental and financial harm they cause. Your kids might not have any money to steal, but they could still get robocalls.
You should review this FTC phone scam guide with them so they’ll hang up when they hear:
- “You have to make a decision now.”
- “You’ve been selected for a special prize.”
- “We have a great investment opportunity.”
- “Would you like a free trip to the Bahamas?"
Add Coverage for Your Identity
A call comes in, and you aren’t paying much attention. You answer, and the voice on the other end sounds familiar. You fall into a casual conversation and give away some personal information.
Maybe you’re tired or relaxed. Maybe you're thinking about other things.
A few minutes later, you realize what you’ve done. You’ve been tricked, but you’re not sure what to do.