Robocall Scams – Part 2

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Robocall Scams - Part 2

Stopping Robocalls
 
There are several things you can do on and off the phone device to help reduce these calls.
 
First, we will talk about things you can do on the phone to reduce these calls. Most phone carriers have built-in functionality to help to reduce nuisance calls.
 
Through your Phone Carrier
The three major carriers have tools to identify, filter, and prevent suspected nuisance numbers from calling or texting your phone. Most require an extra monthly fee to activate the caller ID service, but network-level blocking is free of charge across all carriers.
 
AT&T
AT&T Call Protect is a free network-based service that gives eligible AT&T wireless customers with HD Voice more control over unwanted calls on their smartphones (iOS and Android apps are available). This innovative solution harnesses the power of the AT&T network to give customers automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam call warnings. AT&T Call Protect works great. It blocks calls from entities that you never want to talk to, warns when you probably don’t want to answer the phone, and gives you a log so that you can see exactly what it is doing.
 
The basic version of Call Protect is free for AT&T Mobility subscribers, with the carrier rolling it out automatically for new customers and adding it to the accounts of existing customers. A Plus version of Call Protect with enhanced Caller ID and Reverse Number Lookup features is available for $3.99 a month.
 
Verizon
If you’re a current Verizon Customer on an eligible postpaid plan with a compatible device or if you’re activating a new compatible device, you will automatically be enrolled in Call Filter, the free version that offers free spam detection as well as high-risk call-blocking. The Call Filter app is pre-loaded on most Android™ and some BlackBerry® devices as well as available on iOS and  Android. To begin using Call Filter Plus (Single line), you can enroll from the Call Filter app, in the My Verizon app, or online in My Verizon.
 
If the free version isn’t enough, then for $2.99 a month per line, you can use the paid version of Call Filter which adds in Caller ID, a personal SPAM list, and other features.
 
Instructions on how to use Call Filter can be found on the Verizon website.
 
T-Mobile (including the old Sprint and Metro)
T-Mobile provides two free ways to combat robocalls and spam calls. First is Scam ID, an automatic system that identifies spam numbers when your phone rings. T-Mobile automatically does this on its network, and there’s no app to install or service to turn on.
 
The second free method is Scam Block using their ScamShield app (available for iOS and Android) ScamShield even gives you an extra proxy phone number you can use when you don’t want to share your regular number. If your regular number has gotten caught up in spam, you can change it for free once a year. A spam counter keeps track of the calls that have been blocked.
 
For $4 a month, a ScamShield Premium edition adds in more advanced features, including voicemail-to-text, the ability to create lists of numbers that should always be blocked, and an option to send certain types of calls straight to voicemail.
 
Sprint
Sprint is now part of T-Mobile
 
Smartphone Operating System
 
Android

Android has a built-in Block Unknown Callers function. This function when enabled will block calls that you add to the blocked calls list. The enable this feature, follow the below steps:

  1. Tap the phone icon on your Android, which is usually at the bottom of the home screen
  2. Tap the three dots at the top of the Phone app screen
  3. Tap “Settings” in the dropdown menu
  4. Tap “Block numbers” and then toggle the button beside “Block unknown callers” to green

Block Unknown Callers will block calls from private or unidentified numbers.  You will still receive calls from phone numbers that are not stored in your contacts.

To manually block a call

  1. Open the Phone app
  2. At the bottom, tap Recent
  3. Tap the call you want to report as spam
  4. Tap Block or Report spam
  5. If you tap Block, you’ll be asked if you want to block the number. Tap Block
  6. If you tap Report spam to confirm, tap Report spam
iOS
If you have iOS 13 or higher installed then the below will work for you:
 
To manually block a call
  1. Open the recent calls
  2. Click the information icon on the far right of the SPAM call
  3. Scroll down to Block this Caller
  4. Then click Block Contact
iOS 13 and higher has a build-in feature called Silence Unknown Callers
  1. Open Settings
  2. Click on Phone
  3. Slide Silence Unknown Callers to on
The Silence Unknown Callers feature automatically silences all calls from unknown numbers. Each call is sent to voicemail and appears on your Recents lists so you can see and return the call if it’s legitimate.
 
Free and Paid Apps
Another way to stop nuisance calls on your smartphone is via call–blocking apps. These apps can identify who is calling you and block unwanted calls that show up on crowd-sourced spam and robocall list.
 
Nomorobo
Nomorobo is an iOS and Android app that offers real-time protection from a growing list of robocalls, telemarketers, and phone scammers. Nomorobo lets the phone ring once, then tries to identify the caller. If the number is on the app’s robocall list, the app will automatically block the call for you. Nomorobo is free to use for 30 days, and then it costs $1.99 per month or $19.99 for an entire year.
 
Hiya
Hiya is a free call-blocking app that spun off of Whitepages Caller ID and is the muscle behind the AT&T Call Protect product. Any number that contacts you is run through Hiya’s extensive database, and if there’s a match, the app will automatically block the number; if there isn’t a match, the call or text will go through. Hiya’s free basic plan features incoming spam call detection with daily updates, spam reporting, and blocking by area code, as well as unlimited free lookups for spam, scam, and verified business numbers, all without any annoying ads. An upgrade for $3.99 a month or $24.99 annually, allows you access to Hiya’s Premium plan for more business and personal name lookups, more spam updates, and access to a downloadable, regularly updated caller ID database. Hiya is also very well-rated in both Apple App Store and the Google Play Store
 
RoboKiller
Don’t get mad at robocallers, simply get even, RoboKiller is the modern-day whistle or air horn. RoboKiller is free to download. A subscription is required to use the service, but you can try it out completely free for 7 days. Once the trial ends, your subscription will automatically renew and you’ll be billed. It is actually a pretty amusing app. After flagging a caller as spam, the RoboKiller app automatically blocks their number and sends them to its “Answer Bots,” a feature that plays pre-recorded messages to trick telemarketers and other unsolicited callers into thinking they’re speaking to a real person.
 
You can make your own “answer bot” or you can choose from one of the bots in their collection of “answer bot” audio files.
Here are a couple of samples for your amusement
 
No that is President Trump it is an impersonator

 
The Android app is $2.99 a month or $24.99 per year, while the iOS edition costs $3.99 per month or $29.99 per year after a one-week free trial.
 
Truecaller
Truecaller strives to block spam phone calls and text messages. The app identifies each incoming call, especially those from unfamiliar numbers, so you know if it’s legit or not. Truecaller can automatically block unwanted calls based on known spammers, as well as numbers you manually add.
 
You can look up specific names and phone numbers to get information on them. And you can make phone calls directly from the app to identify and call friends and other contacts.
 
The basic app is free. For $4.49 a month or $29.99 a year, you can remove all ads and enjoy other benefits. Truecaller is available for both Android and iOS.
 
YouMail Voicemail & Spam Block
YouMail offers a robocall blocking with visual voicemail so you can easily view any blocked calls for which the caller left a message. After signing up for a free account, you then set up YouMail as your default voicemail service for monitoring incoming calls and deciding which ones to allow and which ones to block.
 
There are paid versions available as well. For $3.99 a month, a Plus plan cuts out the ads and kicks in an unlimited size for your voicemail mailbox. For $10.99 a month, the Professional plan adds a custom outbound greeting, up to three virtual numbers, and voicemail menus. YouMail is available for both Android and iOS
 
Tactics
1. Reject all calls that are from Anonymous or caller unknown. Many robocalls come up as “anonymous” or “unknown caller” on your caller ID, while most businesses and humans will come up as identifiable phone numbers or names (if they are in your contacts). Chances are, you could terminate all anonymous calls without missing anything important. And if they are important, they will leave a voicemail, whereas most robocalls will not.
 
2. Join the National Do Not Call Registry. Now, this isn’t all it is cracked up to be, but, every little bit helps. Millions rejoiced when the FTC created the National Do Not Call Registry – and in a perfect world, signing up would stop telemarketers from calling you. Technically, it’s illegal for telemarketers to call you if you are on this list. But we don’t live in a perfect world, we live in a world where bad people will do bad things. Scammers and spammers don’t follow the rules, so this layer of protection may help too much. However, it’s still smart to register your number as an added layer of protection against unwanted calls. Just go to the website (donotcall.gov) and enter the landline or cellphone number you want on the list.
 
At the National Do Not Call Registry, you can verify your phone number, report a robocall or register your phone number to the list.
 
Once you sign up, the Do Not Call list takes you off for-profit business call lists, but it isn’t immediate. Telemarketers update their listings only periodically, so the FTC says it can take up to 31 days. Also, political organizations, charities, and survey takers are still permitted to call you.
 
3. Most automated robocalls have a built-in program to help distinguish the phone numbers of real people vs the phone numbers of other automated phone systems. This allows them to cut down on the number of calls they place to phone numbers that are not being answered by a real person, thus increasing their overall effectiveness. There’s no sense in robocall spamming a number where no human is listening.
 
If the robocall doesn’t receive an immediate response when the connection is made, it flags your number as not a real person, it doesn’t play the automated robocall message it normally would, and it auto hangs up after about six seconds. If it was a real person on the other end, they will likely say “hello” a few times and wait through the two-three second pause before you say hello. Worst case they would hang up and call back if they were legitimately needing to talk to you.
 
This effect also helps cut down the frequency of robocalls in general.
 
So sometimes no response is the correct response. However, if this isn’t something you feel you can do, there are other methods.
 
4. If you think you’ve been the victim of a spoofing scam, you can file a complaint with the FCC.
 
I personally use a combination of the above, I have added my numbers to the Do Not Call list, and my Android settings are set as well as through Verizon. Then I use an app and the above tactics and I have greatly reduced my spam calls.
Now the only problem is what am I going to do about my expired car warranty.
 
Next week we will go in-depth a little into some of the robocall scams themselves and how they work and what is being done to combat robocalls.

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