Tips For Blocking Robocalls

The phone rings, your caller ID indicating a local business is calling. When you pick up, however, you get a recorded message “concerning your car warranty,” or “a security risk to your Apple computer,” or even “an outstanding warrant for your arrest has been issued by the IRS.” You’ve just had to endure yet another robocall, the bane of the modern phone user. 

What are Robocalls

Robocalls are phone calls made by computerized auto-dialers that deliver pre-recorded messages, often with the intent of scamming the person called. Some are pretty basic — you answer the call and can tell immediately that it’s a recorded message. Some are skillful examples of social engineering, with realistic audio and pauses that encourage you to respond as if the caller were a real person.

Not all robocalls are scams. Political campaigns, charitable groups, debt collectors, and telemarketers all use robocalls within the limits of the law, and robocalls are also efficient ways to make public-service or emergency announcements. The use of robocalls by scammers, however, has become a serious problem.

How do Robocall Scams Work?

Robocall scams work by spreading a large net. The con artists know the vast majority of people will simply hang up. They rely on the small percentage of people they can fool or intimidate into falling for their scams.

Even answering a phone and saying “hello” can aid a robocall scam. Once you say something or press a number on your phone, the scammer knows your phone line is active and can sell the number to other scammers —  or target you more often. There have even been cases where robocalls record people saying “yes” in answer to a question and using the voice recording to make fraudulent credit card charges.

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What is the Government Doing About Robocalls?

In 2019, the bipartisan Traced Act passed. The act grants law enforcement more authority to target robocall users, extending the statute of limitations for robocall crimes, increasing legal penalties, and requiring phone companies to authenticate calls to determine if incoming phone calls are real (in response to authentication requirements, robocalls began spoofing legitimate phone numbers). The FCC also took action in 2019, giving phone line carriers permission to aggressively block spam calls.

While a positive step forward, implementing the Traced Act will take time. In the meantime, there are steps you can take to reduce the number of robocalls you receive.

How do I Stop Robocalls? 

While nothing can completely prevent robocalls, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. The following precautions will lower your risk of becoming a robocall victim:

  • Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
  • Don’t assume local numbers are legitimate: Robocallers routinely spoof local numbers to fool service providers. 
  • If you pick up the phone, don’t respond to a question with a “yes” (robocalls often ask “can you hear me” in the hopes of recording a yes.)
  • If a caller claims to be with a company or charity, hang up and call the company to confirm. Use the company's website or a phone directory to find an official number. Take the same precaution if you’re asked to press a number to be put in touch with a customer representative, no matter how urgent the call makes it sound. 
  • Never give out your personal or financial information to an incoming call.

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How to Stop Robocalls on iPhones

If your iPhone uses iOS 13, you can activate Silence Unknown Callers, which routes all numbers not found in your Contacts, Mail, or Messages to voicemail. If the caller is legitimate, they can leave a message. To activate Silence Unknown Numbers, open Settings and tap Phone. Scroll down to Silence Unknown Numbers, and tap to turn the feature on.

How to Block Robocalls on iPhones

if you’re using an OS older than iOS 13, or if you prefer not to have all unknown numbers redirected, you can block robocall numbers as they happen. To block a number, go to Recents and tap the Info icon next to the number, scroll down, and tap Block This Caller

How to Block Numbers on Android Phones

To block numbers in Android phones, open the phone app and select Recent Calls or Call History. Tap the number you want and scroll down until you find the option of blocking the number or reporting it as spam. You’ll be asked to confirm your choice. 

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How to Stop Robocalls with Verizon’s Call Filter App

Verizon’s Call Filter app is automatically enabled for postpaid plans on most out-of-box Android phones, and can be downloaded on the Apple store for iPhones using iOS 13 and up.

The app includes:

  • Spam detection
  • A spam filter
  • A call log of blocked/spam calls
  • The ability to report numbers for free.
  • Caller ID
  • A spam risk meter

Verizon’s Call Filter app is available for $3.00 a month, or $8.00 a month for plans with three or more lines. It’s one more weapon in the ongoing battle against robocalls. For more information on Call Filter and how it can help you reduce how often you deal with robocalls, drop by your local GoWireless store.