For many people, robocalls are a nagging headache. They could be a distraction from work and a nuisance to deal with. And if you answer one by mistake, chances are you’ll get barraged with even more calls.
Statistics on robocalls are equally disheartening. According to the YouMail Robocall Index, Americans received nearly 46 billion of them in 2020. This is a 22% decline from the previous year, mainly thanks to the pandemic. But now, they are rapidly rising again. And they’ve become a global epidemic of their own, affecting citizens across the planet.
If you’re harassed by robocalls, too, then you likely have plenty of questions running through your mind. Am I at risk when answering robocalls? How do I distinguish genuine calls from automated ones? More importantly, how do I stop getting robocalls forever? In this article, we’re going to shed light on all these concerns.
They are not just about spam
Now, not all robocalls are telemarketing spam. A vast majority of them are scams and can place you at significant risk of financial loss. In 2020, 46% of these calls represented scams. And based on the US Spam & Scam Report, 61.5% of those who lost money due to a phone scam were lured in by robocalls. For criminals with access to sophisticated technology, robocalls offer a profitable solution to reach a mass audience with minimum cost. They are also difficult to trace and regulate, making them an attractive tool for fraudulent activities.
The bottom line is, robocalls are not just a nuisance. They could also be part of a lucrative scam. So, shrugging them off might no longer be an option.
Stop robocalls with ease
If you’re annoyed by constant spam calls or worried about falling victim to a call scam, you need to take proactive steps to curb them. Although ending robocalls for good may still be a distant reality, you can certainly minimize them and ensure your safety.
1. Download an anti-robocall app
Apps like Truecaller and Hiya are designed to ward off robocalls on your mobile devices and are often free to use. They can scan your incoming calls based on user-generated databases and block numbers identified as spam or scams. Some apps even use AI technology to track call patterns and block suspicious calls.
And depending on the type of app you download, you’ll get access to a range of additional features, too. These can include caller ID, spam alerts, fraud detection, SMS blocking, and call recording. Many of them will even give you access to community support, so users can share their personal experiences and report call scams they’ve encountered. This enables the apps to continuously update their databases, increasing their accuracy of detecting robocalls. There are also paid subscriptions that come with additional features. But for many users, the free options seem to get the job done.
Best of all, they require little to no effort by the user: all you need to do is download the app, and they’ll start scanning your incoming calls straight away. Overall, they are an effortless and cost-effective option to detect and block annoying automated calls. But remember to download a reputed app to benefit from their massive databases of blocked phone numbers.
2. Use the call blocking feature on your phone
Nowadays, phones come with in-built features to help prevent unwanted calls. Depending on the phone you use, you’ll likely find options to block one-ring calls and hidden numbers. You can even block unknown callers based on region or even any call from an unfamiliar number. Now, keep in mind that this could also mean missing out on legitimate calls from numbers that are not saved in your contact list. But you can always revisit your missed call log, run a reverse phone lookup, and return the important calls. Although this may seem a hassle, it’s better than answering a telemarketing call or leaving an important one unanswered.
There’s also the issue of legitimate robocalls. For example, there could be automated alerts and reminders from organizations like hospitals and lenders to make your life easier. But these are extremely hard to distinguish. So, if you’re particularly harassed by an unusual amount of spam calls, set your own reminders and block all robocalls for good.
3. Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry
Registering with the Do Not Call Registry of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is another essential step. The FTC requires telemarketers to remove numbers in its registry from their call lists. But this won’t prevent others like political campaigners and charities from contacting you with robocalls. There might also be marketers who ignore the FTC guidelines. In those instances, you get to lodge a formal complaint, and the FTC will initiate investigations. And if found guilty, they may even pursue legal action against the culprits.
4. Contact your phone carrier
Telephone network operators such as T-Mobile often have tools in place to help customers tackle unwarranted robocalls. These can include call identification features, scam call blocking, directing fraudulent calls to voicemail, reverse number lookups, and proxy numbers to protect your identity.
They are also required to adopt a call verification technology called STIR/SHAKEN by June 2021. It’s aimed at helping carriers verify whether an incoming call is from a real number so customers could avoid it.
So, contact your network operator and inquire about specific services available to ward off unwanted robocalls. Some services could be free, while others may require a one-off or monthly payment.
Federal and state regulations are still in the making to curb the menace of robocalls. Some, however, have made more progress than others. California, for instance, welcomed new legislation in 2019 to protect its citizens from robocalls. There is certainly a long way to go to end unwelcomed automated calls with the help of strict regulations. Meanwhile, you’ll need to take a proactive stance to avoid their annoying and sometimes threatening advances.