Americans received about 200 million unwanted calls every day in 2019, according to a recent survey. The Federal Communications Commission says unwanted calls are its top consumer complaint, but unfortunately, robocalls continue apace in 2020.
Here are five strategies to minimize spam and scam calls from all those annoying fake IRS agents, fake tech support agents, and telemarketers.
Do Not Disturb
While this is one of the most effective, it can be too effective in some cases, so use it with caution.
Both iPhone and Android phones have a Do Not Disturb feature in their settings, which sends all calls that are not on your contacts list to voicemail. Just make sure your contacts list is excepted. The upshot is that the calls you get regularly from your contacts will get through and all those robocalls won’t.
However, that occasional important call from your doctor’s office, for example, will also go to voicemail. So you would need to proactively update your contacts list. You can also toggle it on and off during the day to keep robocalls away at peak times.
Similarly, Apple has a new feature (turned off by default) in iOS 13 called “silence unknown callers” that works like Do Not Disturb.
Pay to get personal information deleted
This is an alternative, albeit pricier, strategy to block robocalls after they reach your phone, with the goal being to cut off the information at its source.
The service DeleteMe, for example, searches the top data brokers to find if they have your phone number. Then, DeleteMe opts you out of those records.
“We check back all year long and continue opting out — in case your number shows up again to protect your privacy and stop robocalls at the source,” a spokesperson for DeleteMe told Fox News, adding that many robocallers buy their databases from one of the top 20-30 data brokers who sell lists of phone numbers. Those brokers may have your address, phone number, email address, age, and public records.
Apps from your carrier
For example, you can set a filter to block all spam calls or just those that are “high risk.” Carriers typically offer a basic robocall blocking app but if you pay a small monthly fee you can upgrade the app for more blocking features and more control.
Typically, the paid apps do not cost than $3.99 per month.
Hiya, Nomorobo, YouMail, and RoboKiller all offer robocall-killing apps. Like carriers’ apps, none of these apps stop all robocalls. But most offer a free trial period allowing you to try them out and test their effectiveness.
You can always use your own call-blocking strategies. You could simply don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize. Remember, just because a call appears to be local, doesn’t mean it is.
And if you get a call from someone who claims to represent your bank and you’re not sure about the legitimacy of the call, hang up, get the bank’s phone number from its official site and call the bank immediately.
For more guidance see this tip sheet from the FCC.