It’s the fifth call today.
I’m in the middle of making dinner and I’m juggling chicken cooking on the stove, food in the oven and chopping vegetables. My husband isn’t home from work yet, so it could be him giving me an update on his status.
But as I make my way across the kitchen to my cell phone while holding a hot frying pan so the chicken doesn’t burn, I look and it’s just another spam phone call.
A call that is spoofing a local neighborhood number and always turns out to be a robot selling me medical grade braces. Why I was targeted for this, I’ll never know.
I’ve blocked about twenty different numbers to no avail, they just use a different number ten minutes later. The sad part is they’re spoofing legitimate numbers… I’ve even heard of people getting a robo call from their own number.
The problem is only getting worse. Last month while I was getting my hair cut I received 23 missed robocalls, some of them from Sri Lanka.
According to YouMail, a phone App that helps you combat this issue, an estimated 3.4 billion robot calls were made in the month of April 2018 alone, that’s 900 million more than the previous April.
Personally, I’ve been fed up for a long time so I went on a mission to learn more about what’s being done and if there is anything I can do.
What Our Government Is Doing
According to an article from the NY Times by Tara Siegel Bernard back in May 2018;
“Federal lawmakers have noticed the surge. Both the House and Senate held hearings on the issue within the last two weeks, and each chamber has either passed or introduced legislation aimed at curbing abuses. Federal regulators have also noticed, issuing new rules in November that give phone companies the authority to block certain robocalls.”
“Despite these efforts, robocalls are a thorny problem to solve. Calls can travel through various carriers and a maze of networks, making it hard to pinpoint their origins, enabling the callers to evade rules. Regulators are working with the telecommunications industry to find ways to authenticate calls, which would help unmask the callers.”
It’s been a year since that article was written and this new legislation was introduced. I’d say I’ve seen an increase in calls since then, not a decrease. So if we can’t count on our government to find a solution, what can WE do? And are there any private companies doing anything about it?
What We Can Do
Register With The FCC Do Not Call List
From FCC Website: You can register your numbers on the national Do Not Call list at no cost by calling 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY). You must call from the phone number you wish to register. You can also register at add your personal wireless phone number to the national Do-Not-Call list donotcall.gov
Notes: I’ve done this to no avail, the beast that is spam calling has grown and clearly doesn’t care about Do Not Call lists. But, there is no harm in registering and could actually help slightly.
Good News For Google Android Users
I love Google, who doesn’t? They have updated the software on their phones to automatically detect robot calls and send them straight to voicemail. While this does protect you from your phone ringing, you’ll still receive all of the voicemail alerts and messages – this is just in case a blocked was actually a legitimate call.
Android phones running Android 6.0 or later can turn this feature on by heading to the Phone app, tapping the settings icon in the upper right, then selecting Caller ID & spam. Then, toggle on “Filter spam calls.”
Forewarning, I’ve seen reports from people that this feature hasn’t done well detecting spoofed neighborhood numbers, so they still have a ways to go. Still, I appreciate that Google is recognizing the issue and working on it.
Third Party Applications
For Apple users like myself, our options are limited to downloading third-party applications. I couldn’t find any indication that Apple itself is working on a solution for its users, which is a shame.
RoboKiller (2.49/mo with free trial)
AT&T Call Protect Plus ($3.99) – Suspected spam warning application
T-Mobile’s Scam ID and Scam Block (free)
Verizon’s Caller Name ID ($2.99)
Samsung – offers built-in features to identify and block spam
WhosCall ($ ) – Sends every call straight to voicemail that comes from a number not in your contacts.
Do Not Call (free)- Turn on the ‘Do Not Call’ feature and set it so that only people on your contact list will ring.
Call me a pessimist, but I’d say the solution isn’t going to come from your phone provider – especially if they’re PROFITING off you buying these extra apps to combat the issue.
From what I’ve seen these apps focus on helping you ID spam and block the number, not stop it. Personally, I don’t need to answer the call to know it’s spam, and I already know how to block numbers, so these apps don’t help me.
They also help you block numbers… but my phone already does this, which doesn’t help because they aren’t calling from their own business line, their spoofing other numbers.
UPDATE 5/8/19 – I saw an article today that lawmakers are moving to criminalize robocalls, especially since the majority of them are attempting to defraud Americans. So instead of receiving a fine (which no one pays), they could face jail time. Read more here >>
Have you had any success protecting yourself from spam phone calls?
Let me know in the comments!!