There are few things more annoying than getting nonstop telephone calls from people you don’t even know. Or worse yet, “people” who aren’t even real people.
Robocalls are at a record-level high. Just like email spam, robocalls are cheap to coordinate so they only need a few victims in order for their efforts to pay off. And some of you may have heard in the news that the US Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, has issued its biggest fine yet – $120 million to a man who orchestrated nearly 100 million robocalls under the guise of exclusive vacation deals from leading travel companies1. These “spoofed” calls would show up with the same area code and first three digits of the recipient’s phone number, maximizing the chances they’d be answered2. To top it off, not only are these calls frustrating, but their misrepresentations are also often illegal. So what can we do to try to stop these pesky calls from filling up our call logs?
- Don’t answer – many of you probably already follow the philosophy that if you don’t know a number, you don’t answer. Answering a robocall just confirms that your phone number is active and can potentially make you a target for more calls. However, if you do accidentally answer, just hang up – don’t respond to any of the prompts the robot on the other end gives you.
- Report it – if you’ve added your phone number to the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry and are still plagued by unwanted calls, you can report them here. Although, it’s unlikely that any fines will be handed out to your callers, this is still a step in the right direction.
- Block ‘em – you can also take the time to block each unwanted number. This is on a case by case basis and you will never be able to block every call, but there’s something cathartic about blocking a number that’s called you at precisely 6:32AM every day this week.
- There’s an app for that – a lot of mobile carriers and third parties have apps specifically designed to help you identify and block unsolicited calls. Some are free, some are not.
In a time when it seems that it’s hard to find something everyone can agree on, we can all join together in our frustration with robocalls. But don’t fret! The US Federal Trade Commission is working hard to combat these calls and make them a thing of the past.