At the top of many people’s “annoying” lists sits robocalls. Stealing our time, attention, privacy, and money, robocalls are the No. 1 source of consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission, as Americans receive an estimated 2.6B robocalls each month.
The mobile phone version of “junk mail” which we addressed in last week’s tip, I turn again to Elisabeth Leamy, Consumer Advocate and Washington Post columnist, who offers great advice on how to best deal with this ever-growing nuisance. Some I’m sure you know and practice, but I found some great reminders and new information. Here are her suggestions:
- Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t know.
- Don’t engage with the robocaller in any way, i.e. pressing buttons to opt out. This lets them know they’ve reached a live phone number and your number is placed on a specific list.
- Don’t speak. If a robocall asks you questions, don’t answer.
- Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry, so at least legitimate telemarketers won’t call you.
- Complain. The FTC chooses which robocallers to go after partly based on the number of complaints they receive. file a complaint online or call 888-382-1222.
- Sign the Consumers Union petition to pressure phone companies to be more aggressive about blocking robocallers.
- Protect your devices with the Nomorobo app, which works by disconnecting the call, typically after one ring, when it determines that a call is a robocall. The company does not collect your information. Currently costs $1.99 a month for iPhone and will soon be available for Android.
- Protect your landline. Consumer Reports tested various landline call blockers, and testers preferred the Digitone Call Blocker.
- Protect your VoIP. Nomorobo was first developed to protect VoIP phones. This version of the service is free, and Nomorobo maintains a list of compatible VoIP phone services.
And just so you know you are in good company 😉 here are the most prevalent types of robocalls:
- Credit card rate reductions
- Luxury vacation packages
- IRS back taxes (The Treasury Department estimates consumers have lost $54 million to this scheme!)
- Auto extended warranties
- Pseudo Microsoft tech
- Home security systems
- Medical alerts, and
- Search engine optimization for businesses
I hope you find this helpful and take steps to stop these distractions.