Our last blog post talked about how robocalls and internet scams have not gone away, even during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Businesses and the general public are on the receiving end of these interruptions every single day. Still, multiple government agencies are working hard to crack down on these calls and texts. However, the end of these irritating interruptions seems to be nowhere in sight. But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers some good advice on avoiding getting caught up in a robocall scam.
Consumer Tips to Stop Unwanted Robocalls and Avoid Phone Scams
- Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
- You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be Aware: The caller ID showing a “local” number does not necessarily mean it is a local caller.
- If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
- Do not respond “yes” to any questions from the caller.
- Never give out any personal information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. Ussually get a written statement will be mailed to you from a legitimate source bevore you receive a telephone call if the caller is asking for a payment. ▪ Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and access your voice mail if you have not set a password.
- Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools they may have and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device to block unwanted calls.
- Robocall-blocking technology can help your phone company know which numbers are producing unwanted calls. They can use this information to help block those calls for you and others.
- Register your cell and landline numbers on the Do Not Call List to help avoid receiving illegal calls.
Call Blocking Tools and Resources
The government and phone companies are working to eliminate illegal calls. However, the scammers are working just as hard to make their scheme even harder to stop. If you know the rules and use the tools provided by phone companies, you can reduce your frustration levels and even reduce the possibility of being a victim of a scam.
Contact your phone company to learn more about the blocking and labeling solutions that may be available to protect you from unwanted and illegal calls. There may also be apps you can download for your mobile device – at little or no cost – to block or label potential spam calls. In addition, to call blocking and labeling services, you should also check with your wireless device manufacturer about built-in features you can use to block unwanted calls from specific numbers using your cell phone’s settings. The resources listed below* provide information on many call blocking and labeling tools currently available to consumers.
• AT&T has Mobile security and call protection services.
• Google Project Fi: Call blocking options for Project Fi wireless service.
• My Sprint has call blocking options.
• Call-protection options with T-Mobile to identify or block potential scammers.
• U.S. Cellular: Automatic network call identification, labeling, and blocking app options.
• Verizon: Call Filter FAQS for screening and blocking unwanted calls.
• AT&T: Information on Digital Phone Call Protect service, call blocking, and other features.
• CenturyLink: Customer tips and tools to block unwanted calls.
• Comcast: Call blocking options for XFINITY Voice subscribers.
• Frontier Communications: Consumer options for call blocking tools and services.
• Spectrum: Guide for using Nomorobo service to block robocallers.
• Verizon: Customer options for stopping unwanted calls to residential lines.
Third-Party Analytics Resources
• First Orion: Tools and services for mobile customers and businesses.
• Hiya: Tools and services for mobile phones; Hiya Connect for businesses.
• Nomorobo: Tools and services for VoIP landlines and mobile phones.
• TNS Call Guardian: Call analytics solutions for businesses.
• YouMail: Tools and services for individuals and businesses.
Wireless Device Solutions
• Apple iPhones have an opt-in “Silence Unknown Callers” call-screening and blocking feature.
• Google Pixel phones have a “Call Screen” call-screening and blocking feature; Google offers several free, opt-in, call-blocking tool apps for Android phones; and Google Voice users can use a call management tool to block unwanted calls.
• Samsung partners with Hiya to offer a call-blocking solution called Smart Call to label potentially unwanted calls.
Trade Association Consumer Resources and Information
• CTIA: Consumer resources for stopping robocalls.
• US Telecom: Consumer information on illegal robocalls.
*The resources listed are provided for informational purposes. The LifeCrafter Foundation and the FCC do not endorse any products or services listed and are not responsible for the content, accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of nonFCC websites.
Any individual or business needs to know and understand the rules regarding robocalls and texts. And, you have numerous options for filing a complaint with the FCC. Those options include:
• File a complaint online at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov
• By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322); ASL: 1-844-432-2275
• By mail (please include your name, address, contact information, and as much detail about your complaint as possible):
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
45 L Street NE
Washington, DC 20554
LifeCrafter Money $ense
Stop Unwanted Robocalls and Texts. https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/stop_unwanted_robocalls_and_texts.pdf
Caller ID Spoofing. https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/caller_id_spoofing.pdf
Greater Woodlawn. https://www.grwfcu.com/pdfs/Oct2020.pdf
Call Blocking Tools and Resources – FCC. https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/call_blocking_tools_and_resources.pdf