Chances are, you rarely answer calls anymore from numbers you don’t recognize. That’s because phone users across the United States are besieged by robocalls — spam and scam calls that not only waste valuable time, but may also put you in a dangerous financial situation. In fact, just last month, an estimated 4.7 billion robocalls were made to consumers totaling approximately 152.9 million per day.
Fortunately, there’s some good news on the horizon. The Federal Communications Commission voted to let phone carriers take more aggressive measures to block robocalls and to allow them to automatically enroll consumers in robocall blocking services without having to opt-in. A new technology, STIR/SHAKEN is already on its way to a big rollout by the big phone carriers, and smaller carriers may hope to implement this tool in the future.
So what do you need to know about blocking robocalls? Will consumers be forever destined to screen their calls?
You may have to pay for robocall blocking services.
Although the FCC does not expect companies to charge for this service, it did not explicitly forbid them from charging.
It’s going to get better.
According to Transaction Network Services, which provides robocall detection services for some big carriers, customers of AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile should start seeing a significant decline in robocalls by January.
Robocalls are not going to entirely disappear.
STIR/SHAKEN technology will decrease the number of calls, but robocalls from overseas will continue. Because most calls originate within the US, consumers should see some relief, despite a potentially ongoing problem.
Some phones have built-in tools.
Pixel 2, 2XL, 3 and 3XL smartphones have something called “Call Screen” that allows you to screen every call with Google assistant. Apple’s upcoming iOS 13 will have more privacy protections, including a setting called “whitelisting” that allows users to send calls from anyone not in their contacts directly to voicemail.
What can you do while your carrier gets up to speed? Here are some tips on how to handle spam and scam calls, without relying solely on your carrier:
- Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.
- If you’re asked to press a key to stop getting calls, just hang up. Pressing a button just confirms that you’re a legitimate target.
- Never give out any personal information, even if the call is from a seemingly legitimate source.
- Call your phone carrier and ask them what tools they already have in place to help you block robocalls.
- Some telemarketing calls can be blocked by registering your number on a Do Not Call List (https://www.donotcall.gov) which allows you put both landline and wireless numbers on the list.
In the meantime, let Billshark (www.billshark.com) help you save valuable time and money. We can help lower your monthly wireless, internet, cable and home security bills so you can be sure you’re not overpaying, ever.