Oh my goodness! I don’t know what has happened in the past say year or so, but I am sick of it!!! With the constant changes and advancements in technology, there are many new ways for scammers, spammers, and phishers to annoy the hell out of us. I mean like wow. In the past few months I have gotten more annoying robocalls than ever before. We no longer have a home phone, but when we did, the calls were constantly coming there too. I even get them on my work phone. IT.MUST.STOP!! I am on a mission to stop robocalls.
(PAUSE: JUST GOT ANOTHER CALL WHILE EDITING THIS POST… WOO SAAAA!!)
I sit and imagine how many people actually fall for this stuff. Between the calls about vacations that I supposedly paid thousands of dollars for, but forgot to take… to the calls that my social security number has been deactivated… to the endless calls about my random credit card… I am fed up!!!
What is a Robocall?
Robocalls are automated phone calls with prerecorded messages. Over the past few years technology has made it cheap and easy for robocallers to make calls from anywhere in the world while masking their real numbers and instead displaying fake Caller ID information.
What is a Scam Call?
These are the ones that call, and when you answer there is a real person on the line. The most common for me these days has been vacation calls. Once they can you on the phone they start a narrative to try to get you to give up money… for various things. In the vacation scam, they call and tell me that I paid for a vacation and didn’t take it. The trick is that this could be true! We take a lot of vacations, and we have purchased packages ahead of time before. However, what gives it away is when I ask them how much did I supposedly pay and when? They usually ignore my question. Or, they come up with an astronomical amount that I would remember! Yeah, not falling for it.
I have started to cut people off, and hang up. In other cases, I block the number.
How to Spot a Fake Call
These days, if you are getting a call from a number that you do not recognize, it’s likely to be a spam caller. One sure sign of a fake call is it coming from a number close to your own. They mask a local number to entice you to answer. The prefix might be the same, or they may use other local numbers. If you are using a carrier spam tool, these calls may be identified for you as “potential spam” before you even answer. Some carriers are now doing this automatically. I have blocked so many numbers it’s pathetic!
How to Block Annoying Scam and Robocalls
Because of this growing issue many of the major carriers have released apps or features to help us stop robocalls. Some are free, but offer premium services for a reasonable price. You can also add extra protection by downloading an app. And depending on your carrier, some protection may be in place before the call even makes it to your phone.
Add Your Number to the Do Not Call Registry
Several years ago, the government actually realized that this is an issue that needs to be addressed. They created the National Do Not Call Registry. On the site, you can report unwanted calls, or register your phone number. Now while we all wish that this would block all calls, it does not. I have been on the list for years, but I still get a number of calls. However, don’t take any chances, register your number anyway, and stop robocalls.
Verizon Call Filter Free
Several months ago T-Mobile announced that they added network level spam protection for their mobile users to help in the fight against scam calls. Caller Verified is T-Mobile’s version of the new STIR/SHAKEN industry standard. If you get a call and it displays “Call Verified” on your screen it means that the number is authenticate, and not a spoof, so likely safe to answer.
AT&T Call Protect is AT&T’s iteration of scam blocking. AT&T Mobile Security, and Call Protect Plus also protect against device breaches, and suspicious activity.
If you are on Sprint, you can subscribe to Premium Caller ID ($2.99/month) to identify spam and unknown callers. However, it does not block them. It helps you to identify the calls that you should not answer.
Even if you are not with one of the carriers above chances are they may have protection available. Check out the carrier website for more information, or install your own spam protection.
Apple App Store or Google Play Store for Android
If the service from your provider is not doing that trick, or they don’t have one available, you can install extra protection by installing an app from the Apple Apple Store or Google Play Store (Android). There are several apps available based on whether you want to pay or not. I suggest looking at the options on apps that have ratings or 4.0 stars or more. This means many people have tested them and provided feedback on whether or not they actually work.
It is no secret that this is an annoying, growing problem for all of us. We may never be able to get rid of every call, but we have to start somewhere!
UPDATE: As of December 5, 2019 the TRACED Act has passed through the US House which will require carriers to take steps to stop and block the calls for free.