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Spam Telephone Calls
PUBLISHED: Jul 01, 2019

Spam Telephone Calls

Remember when every ring of the telephone was an exciting event? Who could it be on the other end? You may have had multiple family members rushing to be the person to pick up the phone.

Nowadays, a ringing phone is often met with dread. And if you don’t recognize the number on the other end? Forget about it. Nine times out of 10, that call is going unanswered.

That’s because the person on the other end likely isn’t a person at all--it’s a robocall.

Telemarketing started to take off in the 1990s, and robocalls were all the rage in the 2000s. The latest trend is that the robocallers are spoofing local telephone numbers to try to trick you into thinking you know the person calling. Or, if you’re like me, you get non-stop calls from Latvia. A long-lost cousin, perhaps?

So how can you stop the onslaught? You really can’t, but there are several ways to control it.

The first thing you should do is register your landline and cell phone numbers at donotcall.gov. This should decrease the number of calls you get, and gives you some legal standing if a particular caller gets out of control. Below are some additional tips for saving yourself from voice spam.

Wireless

Some cell phone companies, like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, either already have begun or will soon begin implementing the STIR/SHAKEN standards, which are protocols that verify whether or not a call is from a real person or a computer. T-Mobile has even taken the additional step of building its own database of fake numbers. If you get a call from one, your caller ID will display “spam likely.”

AT&T, meanwhile, provides its customers with a free app called Call Protect, which blocks robocalls by identifying patterns in the calls. Sprint also offers premium caller ID for a price, which identifies every call that comes through your phone.

Verizon doesn't use STIR/SHAKEN on its network, but does offer a free app, Call Filter, that blocks robocalls. It'll also alert customers of potential spam calls and will provide a caller ID on all calls.

There are also a number of independent apps that perform similar functions, including Nomorobo, YouMail, and Trapcall. The latter will pick up calls you decline and then ring them back to you with the real number displayed. They’ll even give you a big red warning if the number is on a known robocall or spam list. You can then decide to pick up, or blacklist the number and never hear from it again.

Landlines

Those with traditional landlines will need to contact their phone company and request service to block robocalls, which often comes with a fee. If it does, it’s likely not worth it--scammers and robocallers change numbers quicker than the phone companies can keep up.

One option that may prove more fruitful for traditional landlines is to use a phone, like the Panasonic KX-TGE475S, that lets you block numbers and also automatically blocks calls where a number is not available for caller ID. Blocked numbers will no longer ring through and are unable to leave a message.

VoIP service customers can also use apps like the aforementioned Nomorobo, which blocks robocalls and also plays a message that your phone number is disconnected. This hopefully results in your number being removed from future call lists.

Beyond the Block

So, what do you do if you want to do more than just identify and hopefully block some robocallers? Well, if you have a sense of humor, you could sign up for service from The Jolly Roger Telephone Company, which roboanswers the robocallers.

You pick a computer robot (a themed “pirate”), who picks up the call and pretty much just wastes the scammer’s time. The service works either through conferencing via a traditional landline or the “simultaneous ring” feature of your VoIP service.

And for mobile phones, you can “Summon a Pirate” with a text when you get a call you don’t want to take. All options have full reports on numbers intercepted, and a recording of calls answered by your robot pirate. The reports will help you dial in your blacklist, and the recordings are simply fun to listen to (or provide a notice of any legitimate callers who you might owe an apology to).

Summary

While progress is being made to combat robocalling, the calls keep coming. The steps and tips above, however, can help to make your life on the phone a little less annoying.


Tags: HPA Group News, spam telephone calls

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