Since it began in 2003, the National Do Not Call list has grown to include more than 239.5 million phone numbers. When you register your phone number with the Do Not Call list it becomes illegal for telemarketers to contact you by phone. The Do Not Call list does not apply to charities so you still may be contacted by charities even if you have registered for the Do Not Call list. However, when you receive a call from someone purporting to be representing a charity, you can never be sure who is really calling so you should never give your credit card number to someone who calls you allegedly from a charity. If you are interested in a particular charity, contact the charity directly to make your contribution.
If you are registered for the Do Not Call list and you do receive a call from a telemarketer, you can be confident that the call is a scam because no legitimate telemarketer would call you if you are enrolled in the Do Not Call list. It is also important to note that while telemarketing is not in and of itself illegal, telemarketing through robocalls is always illegal. Registering for the Do Not Call list will not stop robocalls. Illegal automated robocalls continue to be a major source of complaint for many people with the most common subjects of illegal robocalls being debt reduction, vacation and timeshares and warranty plans.
Each year, the Federal Trade Commission issues an annual report for the Do Not Call List and this year’s report for the Fiscal Year 2019 (October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019) has some interesting data. The majority of complaints filed by consumers involved robocalls, the automatic prerecorded calls used often by scammers. Many of those robocalls were also classified as impostor scams where the caller falsely claims to be an official from the IRS, the Social Security Administration or some other governmental agency.
Registering for the do not call list is easy and free. Merely go to www.donotcall.gov to register your phone number, however, you will not be able to register your phone until the present government shutdown ends.
As for impostor scams, it is important to remember that your caller ID is not fool proof. In fact, it is a very simple task to spoof a telephone number. You cannot trust your caller ID to accurately inform you as to who is really calling you. You should never provide personal information to anyone over the phone whom you have not called. If you ever receive a call requesting personal information and you think it might possibly be legitimate, merely hang up and call the entity back at a number that you know is accurate and even then do not provide personal information unless there is a real need for it. Additionally, neither the IRS nor the Social Security Administration will ever initiate contact with you by phone, email or text message.
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. In particular, if a robocall does leave a message, you should listen to it right away in case it is one from a legitimate source.
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