The Federal Trade Commission has issued it biennial report to Congress about the National Do Not Call list. Since it began in 2003, the National Do Not Call list has grown to include more than 244 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.
According to the report the FTC received more than five million Do Not Call complaints in 2021 with most of those complaints dealing with robocalls as contrasted to live telemarketing. Imposter scams where the scammer poses as a government employee of the IRS, Social Security Administration or some other governmental agency or of a legitimate company with which you do business were the most common complaints. Other common complaints involved calls related to reducing debt and medical needs and prescriptions.
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. Last year Congress passed a law intended to reduce robocalls, but the legislation does not by any means stop robocalls entirely.
A scam that uses the Do Not Call list as the basis of the scam starts when you receive an email informing you that your registration in the Do Not Call list is expiring and that you have to register your phone number again. You 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.
Here are some helpful tips for combatting robocalls.
Verizon has 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.
For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.” Scamicide was cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.
If you are not a subscriber to Scamicide.com and would like to receive free daily emails with the Scam of the day, all you need to do is to go to the bottom of the initial page of http://www.scamicide.com and type in your email address on the tab that states “Sign up for this blog.”