How to Deal with Robocalls Without Losing Your Temper?
As technology advances, fraudulent calls are getting more difficult to trace or block. The war between the official telephone service providers, third-party apps, and the government agencies on one side and phone scammers on the other is at full swing.
While we wait for the latest defense technology to put an end to spam calls for good, it seems that an average American receives a spam call at least twice a week. If you have been harassed by bots, keep on reading to find out how to stop robocalls.
What Are Robocalls?
Robocalls are not your regular phone calls, but pre-recorded messages. There is no real person on the other side of the line, and the callers use computerized autodialers to reach you. Sometimes, you will hear a bot voice on the other side of the line, but lately, the callers use real people to record the messages so that they would sound more convincing.
Telemarketers and other organizations and businesses started using robocalls because they are relatively cheap, and the whole operation is easy to set up. What began as a way to save money on call-centers ended up as one of the most common ways to scam people for money.
Billions of dollars are lost through phone scams every year, and that number is continually rising. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) joined forces with other law-enforcement agencies in the States to fight back against robocalls.
All major telephone service providers, as well as manufacturers, are developing various tools and apps that can help you avoid robocalls. Although none of them is a perfect solution to the problem, they can reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive.
Are All Robocalls Illegal?
Since robocalls are not illegal per se, it’s impossible to ban them entirely. Some institutions use robocall technology to pass on valid and urgent information to their clients or the general public. You probably received some of the following:
- Calls from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to remind you about important deadlines, or changes in the policy
- Calls from your pharmacy or physician letting you know that your prescription is ready, or that your appointment has been rescheduled
- Calls from a school or campus informing you about shutdowns, or that there has been a sudden change of the opening hours
- Calls from debt-collection agencies passing on information regarding deadlines or the ways to settle the debt
- Calls regarding current political campaigns
- Calls from various charities that explain how to make a donation
What sets such calls apart from scam calls is the fact that they are only meant to pass information. You don’t need to provide personal details, follow up with immediate action, or pay for anything. Legitimate robocalls are usually accompanied by emails or other means of communication that conveys the same message.
All calls that aim to sell you something are illegal unless the company that is making the call has your written consent allowing them to put your number on their calling list. You can remove yourself from such a list at any time, and the company has to have the permission to call you with a robocall. Check out the table below for a better overview of the difference between legitimate robocalls and spam calls.
|Requires immediate response||Requests for personal or financial details to be provided|
Aims to get a hold of information
|Legitimate robocall||Allows sufficient time for action||Does not require details|
Passes urgent or important messages
How to Recognize Scam Calls?
The characteristic feature of all scam calls is that they are after your money. The callers may be more or less subtle, but financial gain is always the motive behind the call. Robocall fraudsters are using elaborate ways to trick people into giving them their personal details, so spotting a scam robocall is becoming quite difficult.
One of the popular tricks the robocall scams use is spoofing. It mimics a phone number different from the one the caller is calling from. Spoofing proved to be pretty efficient in getting people to answer the phone because the caller usually hides behind:
- A number that appears like a local phone number, making you think that a neighbor or a local institution is trying to reach you
- An official government agency or a utility provider phone number that gives you an impression that it’s an official call
- A familiar number that your phone can recognize as a friend’s or family member’s number
Imitating a phone number is quite easy, so you should never take the number that you see on the screen at face value. Just because someone appears to be calling from your area, doesn’t mean that they are, or that their intentions are not suspicious.
How to Respond to Robocalls?
Even though fraudsters can use spoofing to trick you into answering your phone, the way you handle the call is crucial. Picking up does not necessarily mean that you handed over your money. If you do answer a robocall, try to stick to the following rules:
- Don’t speak
- Don’t press any keys
- Don’t call back a number provided during the call
- Don’t give away personal or financial details
- Don’t say yes
Refrain from Speaking
It is essential not to engage with the machine on the robocall. As soon as you realize that you are talking to a robot, you should hang up. Even if the voice sounds real, you will recognize that it’s a robocall if the caller is sticking to the script too rigidly, or if they respond inadequately to your questions. The less you speak, the harder it will be to extract any information from you.
Refrain from Pressing Keys
Robocallers usually instruct you to press a key to listen to a fantastic offer, or to be redirected to a representative that has something important to tell you. You should never follow such instructions because the callers use it to verify your number.
Sometimes they sell it to another company, or simply confirm that the number is active. Pressing keys will only lead to more robocalls, so don’t do it even if the caller says that it will take you off the calling list.
Never Call Back
If you hear a pre-recorded message prompting you to call a number, be sure that it is a scam call. This type of robocall will imitate a call from the IRS or a utility provider telling you that you owe taxes or have an overdue bill. The message will instruct you to dial a number to talk to an agent.
You should never do it. If you think that the call may be legitimate, you should find the customer service number of the particular agency or the provider, and call it to check if the message was real. Never call the number provided during a robocall.
Never Disclose Personal Information
Legitimate businesses or government agencies will always respect your privacy and will never ask you to provide personal or financial information over the phone. In case a caller requests such details, you should not doubt that they are trying to scam you.
Don’t be surprised if they know a lot about you (names of family members or where you work) because acquiring that information is not particularly difficult in the Google era. If the caller asks for your bank account or credit card details, just hang up.
Never Say Yes
Saying yes is one of the biggest mistakes you can make on a robocall. Callers can record your voice and use the voice command to authorize financial transactions. This piece of advice may be challenging to follow because the common robocall trick is to start a conversation with something like, “Hello, can you hear me?” but try to avoid saying yes as much as possible.
You should avoid answering any questions. Instead of providing answers, try to ask the caller a bunch of questions. If you are on a robocall, the machine will not be able to provide answers, and the call will be terminated quickly.
How to Stop Robocalls Once and for All?
The ongoing battle with robocalls and spam calls will not end soon, and it would be wrong to think that you can prevent robocalls altogether. When the FTC created the National Do Not Call Registry, many people thought that phone scams are done.
Unfortunately, putting your number on the Do Not Call List protects you only from the calls that are coming from inside the States. You should still join the Do Not Call Registry because it does keep legitimate, yet annoying telemarketers at bay.
Since the Do Not Call List didn’t suffice in protecting people from spam calls, many telephone service providers and app developers came up with tools that block or divert robocalls. There are also different call-blocking devices that you can attach to your phone if you are using a traditional landline. To stop as many robocalls as you can, you should:
- Check if your number is on the Do Not Call List, and register it if it’s not
- Activate a call-blocking service offered by your carrier
- Install a device that blocks the calls on your home phone
These simple steps will significantly reduce the number of unwanted calls and give you some peace of mind. The measures that the FTC and FCC are taking on the national level should produce tangible results in the years to come, and, hopefully, robocalls will become a thing of the past.
You should also take the time to report robocalls that you receive because it will help the officials expand their database as well as track and prosecute the companies that use unsolicited calls to harass people.
How to deal with spam robocalls on my mobile phone?
There are two ways to stop robocalls on your cell phone. Our advice is to use both of them because it will prevent more spam calls. When it comes to mobile phones, your options are:
- Activating a robocall blocker offered by your carrier
- Installing a third-party app for blocking robocalls
Call-blocking from Telephone Service Providers
One of the points in the FCC guide to robocalls is the instruction to carriers to enable automatic robocall blockers in their packages. This implies that, by 2021, all major providers should introduce a spam-blocking feature.
The carriers already started adding such services, so you should check if it was automatically activated on your account. If it wasn’t, ask your provider to do it as soon as possible. The technology that they use filters all calls before they reach you and detects suspicious numbers.
If the software recognizes a potential threat, the call can be:
- Diverted to voicemail
- Sent to a missed call list
- Flagged with a “spam-likely” warning
Some tools prompt the caller to press a number before they can reach you. Since robots won’t be able to perform this action, robocalls will be automatically stopped. The downside of these tools is that they can block valid calls and that more advanced versions come with a cost. Check the table below to see what popular carriers have to offer when it comes to premium (paid) service options.
|Call Protect Plus||Name ID||Call Filter Premium|
|Price (per month)||$3.99||$4.00|
Third-party Spam-blocking Apps
If you are not into paying additional fees for more sophisticated call-blocking services from your carrier, you can add one of the free or affordable third-party apps designed to stop robocalls. The technology varies from app to app, but most of them analyze the phone numbers and detect if they were used to make a lot of short calls during one day, which implies that they are robocalls or spam calls.
Should you decide to install such an app on your cell phone, consider one of the following:
- Nomorobo—The app is free for phones that use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology, and costs $1.99 for Android and iOS devices
- YouMail—free for all mobile devices
- Hiya—free for download on Android and iOS
How to Block Robocalls on a Home Phone?
Blocking spam calls on a landline is a bit more challenging than on your cell phone. If you are using a digital telephone based on VoIP technology, you are in a somewhat better position.
Most Americans are not aware of what kind of a home phone they have, but if you have the same provider for phone, cable, and Internet services, you are probably using a digital phone.
Digital home phones allow you to install pretty much the same apps that you have on your mobile device. Old landlines with copper wires are trickier because you cannot install apps or activate the services from your carrier.
The only option is to install a call-blocking device that you attach to your phone. This gadget allows you to make a blacklist of up to 100 numbers. The problem is that spam callers change their numbers all the time, so it may be difficult to keep up.
Is It Possible to End Robocalls with the Help from DoNotPay?
Although there’s no way to end robocalls for good, DoNotPay can help you get the much-desired robocall revenge. With its unique feature—appropriately named Robo Revenge—DoNotPay can help you to hurt the spam callers by taking their money.
DoNotPay is not about blocking calls, but about fighting back against robocalls by using the same methods that they use. The process is simple and completely legal, so the next time you get a robocall, follow these instructions:
- Open DoNotPay via your web browser or iOS app
- Select RoboRevenge
- Generate the DoNotPay virtual credit card
- Give the card details to the caller
- Wait for the app to extract the caller’s information as soon as they try to make a transaction
- Use the documents that DoNotPay creates for you to file a robocall lawsuit against the caller
The entire procedure is entirely safe because DoNotPay’s free virtual credit card is not a real card, but a virtual card number. Although the caller will perceive it as a real card, it is not tied to your bank account, so no charges can be made by using the card number.
DoNotPay will automatically put you on the Do Not Call List, so even the call itself is a valid reason for a lawsuit.
With the documents and instructions that the DoNotPay legal team gives you, you can get up to $3000 for an unsolicited call. You should be aware that you can only sue callers that are calling from the U.S. at the moment.
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
DoNotPay uses the world’s first robot lawyer to assist in matters that require legal expertise. Disputing questionable fines, lowering your bills, or getting out of unwanted subscriptions are common issues that become easy to fix if you get proper assistance.
That is precisely what DoNotPay aims to do—offer help with mundane tasks and cut through the red tape for you. If you are struggling with any of the following, ask DoNotPay to jump in:
- Dealing with bills you are unable to pay for
- Disputing traffic tickets
- Jumping the phone queue when getting in touch with customer service reps
- Fighting speeding tickets
- Dealing with issues with credit cards
- Canceling subscriptions or memberships
- Getting revenge on other robocalls
- Suing people and companies in small claims court
- Scheduling a DMV appointment fast and easy
- Getting refunds for delayed or canceled flights
- Contesting parking tickets