Robocall: a parasitic scam that affects every cell phone owner in America. Robocalls use various methods to profit off of phone owners who fall prey to their traps. Recently they have been using numbers from the same area code as users or numbers that look similar to theirs.
An estimated 48 billion robocalls were made in 2018 alone, with 38.8 billion calls already made by August of 2019. Each one follows a similar format in which they impersonate some sort of health, interest rate, or student loan company. This has become a larger issue for the elderly population as they lack the ability to differentiate between genuine calls and an IRS imposter.
Now phone carriers are trying to implement greater control to help reduce the problem. Providers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile have created apps or systems to detect and block suspicious numbers while adding them to a master list of numbers that have been used to scam. Although such services are offered at a fee of around $3.99, they will greatly help in reducing the amount of unwanted incoming calls. Cellphone apps Robokiller and Hiya also provide blocking services, for a small monthly fee. Houses with a home line can sign up to use the service Nomorobo, which will filter through illegal robocalls for free.
The U.S. government has taken further efforts by proposing bills such as the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act or the TRACED Act which will filter through illegal robocalls, allowing only consensual ones, enforcing greater fines, and raising the statute of limitations from one year to three.
Although robocalls won’t be completely eradicated, the FCC proposes several tips to prevent more from affecting consumers. If an incoming number is unknown, let the number pass and do not answer. If you do answer the number, never respond to any questions asked, especially questions that can be answered with a “yes.” Never reveal any personal information, and once you hang up on the phone call, make sure to add the number to the national Do Not Call Registry on the official website at http://www.donotcall.gov.
If you ever receive a call from a number that seems suspicious, do not be afraid to reject the call; better yet, let the call pass through to signify a passive user.
Information for this article came from CNN, Fox News, FCC, and Business Insider.