Since it began in 2003, the National Do Not Call list has grown to include more than 239 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. Recently Congress passed a new law intended to reduce robocalls, but the new legislation is not expected to totally resolve the problem.
Each year, the Federal Trade Commission issues an annual report for the Do Not Call List and this year’s report for 2019, the previous year, shows the greatest number of scam robocalls involve reducing debt scams, medical and prescription scams and impostor scams, such as calls in which the caller pretends to be an IRS employee. Here is a link to data from that annual report. https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/national-do-not-call-registry-data-book-fiscal-year-2019/dnc_data_book_2019.pdf?utm_source=govdelivery
The FTC is reporting that people are now receiving emails informing them that their registration in the Do Not Call list is expiring and that they have to register their phone numbers again. They are then directed to a phony website that gathers information that can be used for purposes of identity theft. The important thing to know is that you never have to reregister your phone number with the Do Not Call list. Once you have registered a number it is permanently on the Do Not Call list until the number is disconnected or you ask for your number to be removed.
Registering for the do not call list is easy and free. Merely go to http://www.donotcall.gov to register your phone number.
Verizon has recently implemented 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.
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