Over the years I have written numerous times about the problems presented by robocalls and with good reason. Automated robocalls which, for commercial purposes, are illegal, are the number one consumer complaint reported by the public to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at a cost to consumers of billions of dollars each year. The ease by which illegal robocalls may be made by computers accounts for much of the problem. According to a report by the security firm Hiya, the number of robocalls worldwide have recently gone up 325% from just the previous year to an astounding 85 billion robocalls last year. Robocalls are the basis for numerous scams including, impostor scams where the caller poses as an IRS agent, bank official or credit card company. According to the Hiya report the top ten countries for robocalls are Spain, UK, Italy, France, Argentina, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Australia.
Earlier this week, the FCC passed a new rule that allows cell phone carriers to automatically drop robocalls through the use of technology that is able to identify illegal robocalls and block them. The rule leaves it up to the mobile phone carriers as whether they will charge their customers for this service although the FCC has encouraged the carriers to provide these services at no cost. Unfortunately, this rule, while helpful, is no panacea. The present technology used to block robocalls relies on blacklists of phone numbers previously used by robocallers for illegal calls. This technology is not effective against “spoofed” calls where the call is made to appear as if it is coming from a legitimate number as where you receive a call that appears on your Caller ID as if it is coming from the IRS when in fact, it is coming from a criminal’s phone number. In addition, the rule may result in the blocking of legitimate robocalls such as those you receive from your pharmacy or doctor’s office confirming an appointment.
As I first reported to you in the May 16th Scam of the day, Verizon has just come up with new services to help its customers avoid illegal robocalls. The new Call Filter service offers spam alerts and new protections from robocalls for its wireless customers. Customers will receive alerts when a call is most likely a scam. The new Call Filter service will also automatically block robocalls based of the customer’s preferred risk level. The Call Filter service is offered in a free version and an enhanced version that among other things will enable customers to create a personal robocall block list. For more information about the Call Filter Services and how to sign up go to https://www.verizonwireless.com/solutions-and-services/call-filter/
There are a number of other options for preventing robocalls including a number of apps that for free or a small fee will reduce and in some instances prevent robocalls.
Samsung’s SmartCall informs you if the call you are receiving is from a known robocaller. This feature is available with newer Samsung Galaxy phones. Here is a link to information about SmartCall and instructions as to how to activate this app.
Google also has a spam blocker that will warn you when you are receiving a robocall and your screen will turn red. Here is a link to information about the app and how to install it.
AT&T also offers free apps to block robocalls on iPhones and Android phones. Here is a link to information about these apps.
Verizon’s CallerName ID is a free service for iPhones and Android phones that will alert you to suspected robocallers. Here is a link to Verizon’s app.
T-Mobile offers a free scam blocker of known robocallers for Android phones which you can activate by merely dialing #662#
Sprint offers a paid service to protect your iPhone or Android phone from robocalls. For more information, use this link
For landlines as well as smartphones there are a number of apps such as Nomorobo, Truecaller, Hiya, RoboKiller and YouMail that offer robocall blocking for free or for small monthly charges. Here is a link to those apps. I have used Nomorobo for years and find it to be tremendously useful
Finally, you can just choose to ignore any calls that come from numbers you do not recognize. This is a good option. If they are legitimate calls, they will leave a message and you can call them back.
If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of www.scamicide.com and click on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”