Unwanted calls and messages from spammers can be annoying. It’s even more frustrating when you pick up the phone thinking it’s something or someone important only to be met with a recorded message about your car’s warranty or an obtrusive voice potentially trying to scam you.
There are ways to thwart these callers and reduce the number of messages you receive. Here are some tips to handle robocalls and make the spam stop.
The best way to respond to spam calls and texts is to not pick up the phone and don’t text back. If you see a number pop up on the screen that you don’t recognize or isn’t in your list of contacts, ignore it.
Answering the phone alerts robocallers that your number is active, opening the door for robocall companies to keep calling back. Regarding texts, some say a response is required or gives you an option or link to opt out. Do your best to delete these texts without responding to them. They could lure you into a scam and clicking on them may allow robocallers to know your number is in use, which will only result in more calls and texts.
Don’t press any buttons
If for some reason you do pick up the call, there might be a recorded message about refinancing student loans, debt consolidation, or buying car insurance — these are very common tactics to get you to take action. Don’t fall for it.
The recording may also give you an option to press a certain key and have yourself removed from their mailing list. As enticing as this sounds, pressing any button gives them the knowledge that your phone number is in service, and you’ll likely be put on a call back list by a robocall company.
Pro tip: Not all "robo" situations are equal. In fact, robo advisors, which are automated investing services, may help people invest their funds with ease. The use of “robo,” however, have led some to be wary of this way of managing money and while they aren’t the same as a human advisor, they have been useful to save funds.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website — Report Fraud — specifically set up for collecting information to help stop these calls and texts. You can report what happened during the call or by text, and the information is shared with over 3,000 law enforcement officials. These details are used in investigations to potentially bring charges against scams and bad business practices.
Look into call-blocking apps
Another way to thwart these annoyances is with a call-blocking app for your devices. These apps can be used to block callers from getting through so you don’t have to be bothered with constantly turning off your phone or having to check it every time it rings. The FTC recommends viewing the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association’s (CTIA) guide for device-specific apps that help stop robocalls.
Talk to your cell phone carrier
In addition to call-blocking apps from third parties, check with your phone provider as well to see if they offer any type of service that can block unwanted robocalls from getting your phone. The same applies to landline phones as well.
Register on the Do Not Call List
The FTC has a national Do Not Call List where you add your information in hopes to cease these calls. Your phone number will be given to telemarketers and other callers, who will have to add it to their Do Not Call database. Be aware that this list is specifically for telemarketers, and it may not stop groups like charities, surveys, or political organizations from contacting you.
Use blocking features
Your smartphone may allow you to block particular phone numbers that call you so that number can’t get through if they try to contact you again. This may be a good option if you get repeated calls from a spammer using the same number. Some robocallers are onto this, however, and may use numbers that may change on a regular basis.
Silence unknown callers
Different devices have varied ways to silence unknown callers, so check your phone settings to see if there are options you can use. For example, the iPhone has a “Silence Unknown Callers” option under its phone settings. Or you could use your phone’s Do Not Disturb features to silence calls that aren’t from a pre-approved list or aren’t in your phone’s contacts.
Robocalls are annoying, but there are ways to slow down their frequency to your phone. Remember that your best bet may be to not answer their calls in the first place, giving them less knowledge of you or if your phone number is active. But if you do answer a call, hang up and don’t answer questions or give out your personal information.
Some of these calls may be sales related, but others are scams promising you money or savings. It’s vital to remember to keep your personal information private, avoid sharing anything with someone who cold calls you. Taking the time to report to authorities may seem like an annoying next step, but it could help prevent more calls in the future.