Robocall messages are designed to get you to act quickly, without thinking. That’s why so many of them use fear tactics, such as “You’re facing jail time for missing jury duty,” or “Your Social Security number has been compromised.”
AARP found that people are more likely to respond to a threatening message as opposed to one that promises a reward, such as “You won a contest,” or “You qualify for a lower credit card interest rate.”
While 42 percent of those surveyed said they would respond when the call promised a reward or money, more than half (51 percent) said they would likely ask for more information when the call involved negative consequences or a fear-based message.
Ninety percent of the adults surveyed by AARP said they want the federal government to do more to reduce the number of fake and misleading robocalls.
Congress is trying to tackle the problem: Last week, the senate passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act) that would direct the Federal Communications Commission to develop rules that require telephone companies to provide an effective way to authenticate calls and allows them to block spoofed calls before they reach the consumer.
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote on a proposed robocall rule at its June 6 meeting that would:
- Allow phone companies to block unwanted calls to their customers by default.
- Permit phone companies to implement technology that would enable consumers to block calls not on their own contact list.
While this is a bold proposal, it would not require phone companies to take action, it would simply allow it. So for now, you’ll need to do a few things on your own to deal with the deluge of unwanted calls.
You can’t stop all robocalls, but there are some effective ways to fight back.
The major wireless companies all provide free and paid services that can alert you to suspected robocalls or block them, if you want. Here’s what’s free:
Third-party apps are also widely available and often free. They’re not perfect, experts say, but they’re the best tools available right now.
These apps include: Hiya, YouMail, Robokiller, TrueCaller and Nomorobo (Nomorobo charges $1.99 a month for cellphones, but it’s free for Internet, or VoIP, phone lines.) There isn’t a lot you can do for traditional landline phones, except block individual phone numbers.
Consumer Reports suggests a few more steps you can take:
- Join the registry: If you haven’t done it already, add your home and cellphone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry. This won’t stop scammers, but it will tell legitimate telemarketers you do not want to be bothered.
- Block it: When you get an unwanted call on your cellphone, take the time to enter it into your list of blocked numbers.
- Create a robust contact list: Make sure it includes the names and numbers of doctors, service providers, friends or anyone else you might want to talk to who is not likely to get spoofed. That way, if they do call, their info will show up on your caller ID.
TIP: If you don’t recognize the number, let the call go to voicemail. That’s what I do. If it’s a robocall, never call back, just delete the message.