By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
No one likes robocalls. In fact, they suck. So here are a few tips to help you get rid of them once and for all.
Robocalls are those pre-recorded telemarketing calls that always seem to come at the most inopportune times. We may think of robocalls as nothing more than a general annoyance, but they actually could be dangerous. In some cases, their purpose is to get you to reveal information that could then be used to steal your identity. In other words, the people behind these robocalls may have malicious intentions.
Robocalls are getting worse
It’s not just your imagination; robocalls are actually getting worse. In 2017, there were about 4.5 million complaints filed, which is a huge jump from 2016 where there were 3.4 million complaints.
Why are they getting worse? It’s likely due to technological advances, including Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP services. This technology is cheap, and it can be enhanced by using tools like auto-dialers or spoofing programs that can change the caller ID (you’ll notice that many robocalls come from your local area code to trick you into answering).
Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent robocalls from happening:
Block strange numbers
If you get repeated calls from a number that you’ve determined is a robocall, you should block the number. Typically, there is a built-in system to block unwanted calls from within your cellular device. On iPhone, for example, all you have to do is go to your list of calls, find the number you want to block, click the info sign, and scroll down to “Block this caller.”
If your phone doesn’t have this functionality, many cell phone carriers do—even if it’s not advertised as a “robocall blocker.” Sometimes it’s under the “parental controls” banner, and you may get charged a nominal fee. But this will guarantee that any pesky numbers that keep calling will never bother you again.
Subscribe to the “Do Not Call Registry”
You should also subscribe to the national “Do Not Call Registry.” This stops the “legitimate” robocalls calls (the telemarketers). The nice thing about this is that it can stop the robocalls before they even start, rather than you having to block anyone. Once on the registry, it’s illegal for most robocallers to contact you. The only caveat is that you have to wait at least 31 days after signing up for the block to take effect, and being on this list won’t stop scammers.
Install a call-blocking app
You also might want to get a call blocking app. True Caller, NomoRobo, and Hiya are robocall blocking apps that are available for smartphones. Search “Hiya” and “Call Protect” to see what’s available on your carrier and device. Apps like these alert you when a known spammer is calling, as well as providing a directory for you to look up strange numbers. You can often block numbers directly from within the app.
Press #2 on your phone
When you press #2 on your phone during a robocall, it will often disconnect you and take your number off their spam list. However, you should be wary of this. Those with more malicious intent have begun using this a way to register the line as “active.” In this case, you won’t be removed from their list at all and may actually end up getting more calls.
Which leaves us with this final tip: Do not answer. This might sound overly simple, but if you never answer, typically the calling will eventually stop. Unlike above, after a while, your number may be deemed “inactive” and be removed as a potential target. So, if you don’t know the number, don’t answer the phone. If it’s important, the person can call you back, send you a text, or leave a voicemail.
By adopting these tips, you can cut back on the number of times you receive robocalls. You might even be able to stop them altogether. Not only will this help you from becoming annoyed every time the phone rings, it could also save you from becoming a victim of identity thief.