How to block robocalls to your cell phone
Automated telemarketing calls, robocalls, and scam calls to our cell phones have become one of the biggest consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission this new year. But you now have more ways than ever to fight back.
Shady marketers making those credit card and “free vacation” calls are no longer targeting just our land lines but our private cell phones, since so many people have dumped their land lines.
In addition, the rise of VOIP (internet based) phone calls mean they can make millions of calls a day at no charge, where 10 years ago they would have to pay for each outgoing call.
Add to that the overseas scammers who pretend to be FBI or IRS agents and threaten you with arrest, and every call you answer now is a potential hassle.
Kim Jones says her iPhone is ringing every day with phony IRS agents, phony sheriff’s deputies, timeshare hawkers, and credit consolidators.
“I can show you my call log where the same number comes through two or three a day,” the frustrated woman said. “But I’ve reported it, and I still keep getting this call.”
It’s sometimes called cell phone spam, and the FTC estimates that computerized robocallers made 4 billion of them last year.
Worse, many now spoof their number, making it appear the caller to be the IRS, the White House, or even one of your neighbors.
But the good news is that several apps will now block them.
Here are the blocking apps with the highest ratings at the iTunes store or Google Play:
- Privacy Star
- Mr Number
- Calls Blacklist
- True Caller
- AT&T Robocall Blocker (for AT&T smartphone customers)
If you have just an old style land line, Amazon sells several caller ID units that also claim to block marketing calls.
The most popular is NoMoRobo, which works on internet-based land line phones as well as iPhones and Androids, but not old fashioned land lines.
Its founder recently testified before Congress and claimed the 10-year-old Do Not Call list no longer works, as it stops only legitimate companies, such as banks and insurance companies, from calling.
The $5 a month NoMoRobo service compares you incoming call with a list of millions of robocallers and sends any questionable call to your voicemail, where most scammers will not leave a message.
A somewhat different service is Burner, which gives you a temporary phone number to share with stores and businesses. Burner founder Greg Cohn explained that for $5 a month you get a disposable phone number you can change whenever pesky sales people start calling you too much. “A great example is a time when that car salesperson is going to try to put you behind the wheel, and they are going to try to get your contact information, and believe me they are going to call and text you,” Cohn said.
He says you give them your temporary number, and then “dispose” of it and get a new number a month later. You still have your personal cell phone number, but you never share it except with family and friends.
Kim Jones is going try some of these services, because she — like a lot of us — is at her wit’s end. “No matter how many times you tell them that you’re not interested — to remove your number — still they call,” she said.
Trying some of these apps on your internet-based (VOIP) cable land line or smartphone is smart, so you don’t waste your money.