(WETM) — We all know the feeling. The dreaded sight of a phone number you don’t recognize and the annoying decision of whether or not to answer it. There’s a good chance you won’t, and with good reason.
The Federal Communications Commission reported last month that Americans received about four billion robocalls every month in 2020. The FCC said that advancing technology makes it easy for scammers to make large volumes of calls and to hide their identities.
Still, the FCC says protecting consumers from “illegal and spoofed robocalls” is one of the agency’s top priorities. Earlier this year, the FCC proposed a $45 million fine against a company that allegedly made over half a million illegal prerecorded calls without consumers’ consent, falsely claiming to have COVID-related information in an effort to make the recipients buy health insurance.
“We’re not going to stop until we get robocallers, spoofers, and scammers off the line,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel last month.
The FCC provided the following tips to help consumers protect themselves from unwanted, spam, and robocalls:
- Don’t answer the phone from numbers you don’t recognize.
- Just because the Caller ID shows a “local number” doesn’t mean it’s actually from your area.
- If the call asks you to hit a button to stop getting calls, hang up.
- Don’t respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes”.
- Never give out personal information, especially if they ask you for it immediately.
- If the person on the call claims to be from a government agency, hang up and call the appropriate number yourself to verify the authenticity.
- Set a password for your voicemail so a scammer can’t spoof your number and call the inbox themselves.
- Ask your phone company about call blocking tools and look for apps for your smartphone that can block unwanted calls.
- If you already use robocall-blocking technology, let that company know what phone numbers are calling you.
- Register your number on the Do Not Call List. The FCC says legitimate telemarketers consult the list to avoid calling numbers on it.
But scammers don’t behave like legitimate telemarketers. “They don’t care if you’re on the National Do Not Call Registry,” the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says. So an even better way to avoid unwanted calls is to use call blocking, according to the FTC. The agency has provided a list of various call-block methods based on what type of phone you have.