Can You Stop Those Pesky Robocalls?

Spam phone calls have been around for a long time. But now, they're even more bothersome because they're coming in on our mobile phones. And what's worse, they're often disguised as someone from our own area code. How do we keep up with their tricks -- and stop the calls?

In the past, it always seemed to be in the middle of dinner - our landline would ring and it was someone (actually a physical, live person!) trying to sell us something. Now that most of us primarily use a smartphone and we always have it with us, spam calls can be particularly annoying, as we cannot seem to escape them.

Spam phone calls have changed. With the invention of the internet, came the ability to make phone calls using a computer. "Robocalls" are auto-dialed from a computer and deliver a prerecorded message. Some robocalls are approved by the Federal Trade Commission and are actually helpful. Examples include reminders and cancellation notices for things such as appointments, flights, schools, and pharmacy. 

Not surprisingly though, the majority of robocalls are illegal, simply because you have not given prior consent to receive it. What’s worse is about 90% of robocalls are also fraudulent in nature. The caller is often trying to take advantage of you or steal from you, so you really do need to be careful with these calls.

What's making robocalls increasingly challenging to identify and trace is the practice of caller ID spoofing. Spoofing allows spam callers to place calls from a fake number other than their own. It allows the callers to be more strategic in their methods and place calls that appear to be in the same area code as yours! This greatly increases your chance of answering the call because you think it's from someone local or someone you know.

How to Stop Those Calls

So, what if you block that unique, fake number? Well, the caller can just call you from a different fake number, so it's extremely hard to stop these calls. The easiest and most effective solution (at least for now)? Don't answer the call. If a legitimate person is calling and really needs to get in touch with you, they will leave you a voicemail.

If you do answer a robocall and engage in any way (dial a number option to opt out, or verbally answer prompts), then your number may actually be flagged and you'll receive more calls. And this should be obvious, but never provide or confirm personal information. So, it cannot be stressed enough: resist your curiosity and do not answer the call!

So why are YOU receiving these calls? Most likely because your number was auto-dialed at random, but it's also possible your number was scraped from the internet. To see if your number is publicly available, search for it in Google. If, for example, you find it's linked to a social media profile, change your settings.

Because computer-based calls are extremely cheap to make and are hard to regulate and track, more and more scammers are taking advantage of them all over the world. Unfortunately, even while the government is working on this growing problem, the calls aren't going to just stop overnight. Here are some steps you can take to help stop these unwanted calls.


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