ATLANTA — If you own a cell phone, it's likely you get spam calls regularly. And a lot of the time, it's that robotic voice none of us wants to hear when we pick up the phone.
Americans got 58.5 billion robocalls in 2019 – the most in history - according to YouMail, a company that develops robocall blocking software.
Money lost to scammers and frustration at the never-ending barrage of annoying telemarketers is skyrocketing as well.
By one estimate, Americans lost a staggering $19.7 billion dollars to phone scammers last year alone, according to Truecaller Insights, a group that studies robocall trends.
Scammers are getting better and better at tricking you to pick up by spoofing their number to look like it's coming from say the IRS, local police, or just using your area code to try and get you to answer.
HOW DO I STOP ROBOCALLS?
After talking to experts, below is a list of things you can do to stop the calls.
FTC DO NOT CALL LIST
The first thing you should do is add your phone number to the Federal Trade Commission's "Do Not Call List."
Click here to get to the FTC Do Not Call List.
Although this may work for some of the spam calls, scammers don't care about the Do Not Call List. So try these other tips:
HANG UP AND BLOCK
Another option to potentially slow the flood of spam calls is to hang up and immediately block that phone number in your phone.
This option will not fully stop robocalls, because they could just call from another number. But, it's an option to at least slow down the repeat offenders who just keep calling from the same number.
HOW TO BLOCK CALLS ON YOUR PHONE:
IPhone Directions: Go into Phone App > Hit Recent > Next to the number select the i button circled on the right, Click "Block this Caller" on the bottom of the page
Android Directions: Go into Phone App > Select the three vertical dots in top right corner > Settings > Block Numbers > Recent > Select bubble on the left of the number you wish to block
Contact your cell phone provider to see what spam blockers they offer on your network.
Again, these likely won't eliminate robocalls all together, but could help get rid of some of them.
Verizon provides both spam detection and a spam filter. On your phone, go into your settings menu, select the phone option, and then go down and turn on your "call blocking & identification" option.
T-Mobile and Sprint provide Scam Shield, an app you can download that has scam ID, scam block, and extended caller ID options.
AT&T has Call Protect, which provides automatic fraud blocking and spam caller ID warnings.
ROBOCALL BLOCKING APPS
There are many robocall blocking tools in your phone's app store. But make sure you download a safe and trusted one.
According to Mashable, the top seven spam blocking apps are listed below, along with their costs.
Hiya - Free basic service, with $2.99 per month for premium
Nomorobo - $1.99 per month
RoboKiller - $4.99 per month
YouMail - Free basic service, $7.99 per month for Plus, $17.99 for business plan
Call Control Home - A service for land line call blocking that costs $139.99.
Truecaller - Free basic service, $4.49 per month for premium
TrapCall - $5.99 per month for basic, $9.99 per month for premium
DO NOT DISTURB
The final suggestion we have might be a little drastic, but you can activate the Do Not Disturb function on your phone.
With that function on, you can set it to only your contacts being allowed to call you. On Apple phones, there is a "Repeat Calls" option in Do Not Disturb that would allow anyone to call twice within three minutes and they would get through, whether they were a contact or not. On Android's, the "Repeat Calls" option says someone would just need to call more than once within 15 minutes.
This measure could be a little extreme, but it's an option if you have an elderly family member or a teen with a phone. It could be used to help protect those who might fall victim to a scammer looking to get money or personal information.
More about Apple's Do Not Disturb Function HERE
More about Android's Do Not Disturb Function HERE
Who's calling me? Reverse phone number search:
Note: Information about these phone numbers is provided by YouMail. Our investigation is providing this link for informational purposes only. TEGNA is not associated with YouMail.
Track robocalls in your area:
Note: Tracking information is provided by YouMail. Our investigation is providing this link for informational purposes only. TEGNA is not associated with YouMail.
What is Congress doing about Robocalls?
The following is a list of legislation proposed designed to stop robocalls.