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I get them all the time and I know you do too. These calls seem to have my phone ringing more than friends or family calling. We are not alone! Nearly half the calls made to US cell phones in 2019 will be spam, according to a study by First Orion referenced in a Federal Communications Commission report. Lately around here we have seen con artists trying to get people’s social security numbers, impersonating local detectives, and asking for payments with gift cards.

If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall. The Federal Trade Commission has seen a significant increase in the number of illegal robocalls because internet-powered phone systems have made it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world, and to hide from law enforcement by displaying fake caller ID information. To date, the FTC has brought more than a hundred lawsuits against over 600 companies and individuals responsible for billions of illegal robocalls and other Do Not Call violations.

As a Marketplace Manager for the Better Business Bureau, the main question I get from people about these calls, “how do I stop them?” The BBB has a few suggestions:

  • Do Not Call Registry. You can reduce the number of unwanted sales calls you get by signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry. It’s free. Most legitimate companies don’t call if your number is on the Registry. If a company is ignoring the Registry, there’s a good chance that it’s a scam.
  • Cell Phone Apps or Features. There are apps that will help you block calls as well as pop up warnings letting you know it may be a fraudulent call. Some may come at a cost or some are free, these vary for each cell phone provider. Also, you can use your Do Not Disturb to block all calls except those from selected contacts, for some people this could be a huge help.
  • Just Don’t Answer and Block. The best thing to remember is, when you answer and engage with a caller this can open you up to more calls. So, the best thing to do is just not to answer if you don’t recognize the number and block that number in your phone.

Ultimately you may not be able to stop all these calls but following these steps will help. The frustrating calls may still come but hopefully you will be better equipped and can ignore those that do get by.

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Written by Jeremy Johnson

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