We’ve all experienced the frustration and irritation of receiving a robocall. Whether you’re waiting for an important call from a doctor or potential employer, or simply trying to enjoy your lunch break, nobody wants to hear from scammers and telemarketers. And the number of robocalls has increased sharply in recent years, reaching between 60 billion and 75 billion in 2019, an increase of at least 13 billion from 2018.
Most of us have learned not to answer calls from phone numbers we don’t recognize, but sometimes this means we miss important calls that aren’t robocalls. How do you stop robocalls altogether? This guide will tell you.
In this article:
- New Robocall Law
- What’s the Best Way to Stop Robocalls?
- Which Carriers Offer Scam/Fraud Protection?
- How to Protect Yourself from Robocalls
- Most Common Types of Robocalls
New Robocall Law
A new robocall law, the TRACED Act, enables consumers to identify robocalls more easily so that they can avoid answering. Under this new law, phone carriers are required to implement a number-authentication system to help customers identify the caller. Moreover, these phone companies can block unwanted robocalls without asking customers and that the companies are not allowed to charge for these robocall-blocking services.
It is already illegal to fake a phone number on Caller ID to commit fraud or otherwise cause harm, and scams and telemarketing calls that don’t have written permission from the customer are also illegal. The new law raises the penalty for people who make these illegal robocalls, plus it pushes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to work with the Justice Department to pursue criminals making these fraudulent calls.
As promising as this new law is, determined scammers will most likely find ways to get through these robocall blocks. Knowing that, there are some things you can do to stop robocalls on cell phones.
Know your rights: telemarketing calls that don’t have written permission from the customer are illegal.
What’s Best Way to Stop Robocalls?
There’s no fool-proof way to completely block robocalls, but there are ways that you can reduce their frequency, such as:
- Research call-blocking options: Mobile devices, landlines, and home phones that use the internet all have different call-blocking technologies. Some options that block robocalls include mobile apps or downloading call-blocking services. Keep in mind, it’s possible that these technologies may also block legitimate calls.
- Report the robocall at donotcall.gov: Once you report the number that called you, the FTC will record the numbers you report and release them to the public. This way, phone carriers and other companies working on call-blocking options can improve their solutions. Your report also helps law enforcement to catch scammers.
- Register your phone number on the Do Not Call list: This will help to prevent robocalls from telemarketers since they aren’t allowed to call you without written permission.
- Ask your cell phone carrier about call-blocking: Many phone carriers offer call-blocking options that can reduce the number of robocalls you get.
If you want more information on how to stop robocalls, check out this video by Whistleout TV’s Sherri Riggs.
Which Carriers Offer Scam/Fraud Protection?
Several cell phone carriers offer call-blocking services and spam protection that can help reduce unwanted calls, especially since the FCC has mandated that carriers use caller verification to verify the legitimacy of a call before it reaches customers—this is known as SHAKEN/STIR. If you’re with a carrier that offers ways to block robocalls, you’ll want to make sure that you’re taking advantage of your carrier’s offerings.
Verizon automatically blocks certain calls they have deemed spam. Additionally, customers can download the free Call Filter app, which labels spam calls and prevents them from reaching the customer. Customers can also upgrade the Call Filter app for $2.99/month—this option provides customers with a custom block list and reverse number lookup, as well as caller ID for numbers the customer doesn’t recognize.
T-Mobile Spam Protection
T-Mobile’s spam sorting service is automatically enabled for all of their customers. T-Mobile sorts and labels spam before it gets to the customers and then the call is labeled “scam likely.”
T-Mobile also offers a free Scam Block service that blocks the calls altogether. In order to us this benefit, customers must opt in by dialing #622# on their phones or logging into their T-Mobile account.
T-Mobile’s paid call-blocking service is a Name ID app that costs $3.99/month after a 10-day free trial. Customers can choose to block calls by category, such as telemarketing, survey, political, etc., and they can also use reverse phone number lookup.
AT&T Spam Prevention
If you’re an AT&T customer, the good news is AT&T already blocks spam calls from reaching you. Customers who want even more robocall-blocking capabilities can download the Call Protect app, which identifies spam robocalls by type and allows the customer to customize a block list. Like Verizon and T-Mobile, AT&T’s paid version, which costs $3.99/month, offers reverse number lookup and allows customers to block calls by category.
Sprint doesn’t offer any free call-blocking services, but it does offer a $2.99/month Premium Caller ID app, which identifies robocalls and scam calls. This app will also identify callers even if the customer doesn’t have the number in their contact list.
How to Protect Yourself from Robocalls
Unfortunately, no matter what measures you take, some robocalls are still going to get through, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your private information. As a general rule, don’t answer phone calls from numbers that you don’t know; let it go to voicemail. If you answer the phone to find that it is a robocall:
- Hang up immediately.
- Don’t press any buttons, even if prompted.
- Don’t answer any questions, especially yes or no questions.
- Avoid giving out any personal information, such as social security number, bank account numbers, passwords, and more.
- If a caller claims to represent a company or government agency, hang up and call the phone number listed online for that company.
- Set a password for your voicemail. Some voicemail services allow you to access your voicemail from your phone number, meaning a hacker could find a way to call your voicemail from your own number and gain access to your voicemail.
Most Common Types of Robocalls
Scams are the most common type of robocall, accounting for a whopping 45% of all robocalls in 2019. These scammers are after your money, social security number, and more. Oftentimes, these scammers pretend to be from the IRS or Social Security Administration and target elderly consumers who they convince to wire them thousands of dollars.
After scammers, the most common robocalls include:
- Alerts and reminders: 22.7%
- Payment reminders: 20.3%
- Telemarketing calls: 11.3%