By Melissa Locker
September 27, 2019
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

One of the most annoying occurrences in the modern world is the rise of robocalls. Remember when you used to be excited when your phone rang? Yeah, robocalls pretty much ruined that. In 2018 alone, robocallers reportedly made 26.3 billion calls, and it's safe to guess that no one was happy to hear from them.

While there doesn't seem to be a way to permanently stop those pesky phone calls, despite the government's efforts, there are ways to reduce them. First, unless you enjoy talking to telemarketers, make sure both your mobile and land line number is on the National Do Not Call Registry, which was created specifically to stop unwanted sales calls. It's free to register by either going to donotcall.gov or calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to register. Be aware that that the Do Not Call Registry still lets charities, political candidates and parties, debt collectors, informational calls, and surveys ring you on the phone. To get away from those phone calls, the best thing to do is to ask them to remove you from their call list and most will comply.

If you've listed your phone number to the Do Not Call Registry and are still getting a lot of unwanted calls, you're not alone. It seems that everyone's phones are ringing off the hook thanks to robocalls and scammers. To help curb the flood of phone calls, look into how to block unwanted calls, which is quick and effective. However, robocallers are aware of call blocking technology and now frequently call from different numbers each time. That's part of the reason that the FCC, the government agency charged with managing and monitoring modes of communications recommends not answering calls from unknown numbers, even if they look like they are local. Robocallers and scammers have technology that makes it look like they are local, when they are not. If you do answer a call that turns out to be the audio version of spam, just hang up. If you end up on a call and start pressing buttons in the hopes of talking to a human or telling the manager that you're on the Do Not Call Registry, it won't work. In fact, it might lead to more unwanted calls since robocallers now know the phone number works. Instead, report it to the FTC.

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If you're tech savvy, apps like RoboKiller, Mr. Number, and Nomorobo can block suspected spam calls. Phone companies are also working on the problem, including T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T, which all have tools to combat robocalls.

Here are some other tips from the FCC for handling those annoying robocalls:

  • If you accidentally answer a robocall, do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with "Yes."
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords, addresses, credit card numbers, or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get a call from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency (the IRS is a favorite of scammers), hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company's or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request.
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