PORTLAND, Ore.-- Tired of automated robocalls? You’re not alone. Last year, an estimated 30 billion robocalls rang cellphones and landlines, according to YouMail, a voicemail and call blocking service provider.
So, what can you do to fight back? The only fool-proof solution is to throw your phone away. But if that’s not an option, here are five other ideas.
1. Don’t answer
This is the easiest solution, and probably the best. If you don’t recognize the caller’s phone number, let it go to voicemail.
Answering the phone or pressing a number to opt-out will just let the salespeople or scammers know that you’ve got a working phone number. Odds are, they’ll probably call back.
2. Check with the phone company
Many phone companies like Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T have services available to ward off unwanted automated calls. For example, AT&T Call Protect is a free service that automatically blocks fraud calls and gives screen alerts for suspected incoming spam phone calls.
3. Consider third-party apps
“It’s not perfect but I’ve had it block plenty of calls,” said Hiya app user, Dugan Kniesteadt of Portland.
Some of the apps involve a monthly fee, others are free.
4. Waste telemarketers’ time
Play a trick on telemarketers by wasting their time with an automated voice program.
“Our robots talk to telemarketers so that humans don’t have to!” explained the Jolly Roger Telephone Company.
The program allows you to merge telemarketing calls with a robot that understands speech patterns and works to keep the caller on the phone. There is a fee for the service.
Jolly Roger Telephone Company posted some pretty funny examples of hoax phone calls online.
RoboKiller is an app that also gets revenge on telemarketers. Not only does RoboKiller identify and stop spam calls from ringing your phone, but the app answers the call using a recorded voice to fool the telemarketers into thinking there’s a real person on the line. RoboKiller costs $2.99 per month.
5. Demand change
Both the U.S. House and Senate are considering legislation aimed at protecting consumers from these annoying robocalls. Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are co-sponsoring the ROBOCOP (Repeated Objectionable Bothering of Consumers on Phones) Act. The bill would require phone companies to offer free, effective tools to block robocalls.
“We have to stop these calls and the FCC has been utterly failing to take it on,” said Sen. Merkley (D-OR) in an interview with KGW.
Consumer advocates say phone companies can do more to dramatically reduce robocalls by upgrading software and offering robocall-blocking solutions for all customers.