8 Tips to Stop Annoying Robocalls

Most robocalls are illegal. But if you’ve answered a phone lately, you know they’re happening anyway. Here’s how you can fight back.

Automated calls are becoming more frequent and more infuriating. Weren’t they supposed to have been banned? Yes, but that hasn’t happened in practice. According to the Better Business Bureau:

The federal Telemarketing Sales Rule prohibits recorded sales messages unless you have given written permission for the caller to contact you, regardless of whether or not your number is on the Do Not Call registry (www.donotcall.gov).

Nonetheless, a growing number of consumers are receiving calls that offer fraudulent credit card services, questionable auto warranty plans, home security systems and grant procurement programs.

Here are some tips from the BBB and Money Talks News for stopping robocalls. They’re not foolproof, but they can help.

1. Keep your number to yourself

You know how businesses ask for your number for just about any reason? If you don’t have to give it, don’t. “It is a tacit invitation for them to call that number or sell it to a third party,” the BBB says.

2. Tell companies you use to buzz off

It not illegal for a business to make marketing calls if you have a relationship with them. So read the terms and conditions of your purchases and services carefully. Buried in those agreements might be a clause agreeing to these annoying calls.

If you find out too late that you agreed to their spam, you can still stop it by specific request. Call and keep a record of the date you made the request, and follow up with the FTC if the business keeps harassing you.

3. Hang up right away

If you get a robocall, immediately hang up. “There is nothing to gain from attempting to reason with the people behind the calls,” the BBB says.

Contact your service provider to see if it has free blocking services but be warned: Your caller ID might show a phony number when the robocall comes in because the latest technology can fool your service.

4. Don’t press numbers

In the past, many people have recommended certain number combinations or the pound key to delete yourself from a robocall registry. But does pressing the right numbers really take you off the list?

The BBB says no, you’re actually making it worse: “By pressing a number, you are confirming that someone is actually responding to the call, and you will likely receive more of them.”

5. Get on the Do Not Call Registry

Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry. It’s free, your number is never taken off the list, and it will at least stop law-abiding solicitors. It’s for both cellphones and landlines.

6. File a complaint

If you’ve been on the Do Not Call Registry for a month or longer and still get calls, file a complaint with the FTC. This may seem like a waste of time, but it doesn’t take long, and sometimes enough complaints can get policy changed.

If the call comes from an identifiable business, you should also report it to the Better Business Bureau.

7. Use a free service that blocks all robocalls

Nomorobo is a free tool you can use to block robocalls. You tell it who your carrier is, provide an email address and from that point forward, an algorithm blocks robocalls.

Nomorobo works by letting your phone ring once. It then identifies the caller and if it’s a robocaller, it hangs up.

Note, however, that the company site warns, “Nomorobo is only available on certain VoIP providers and only in the United States.” It isn’t yet available for most major cellphone companies.

8. Block political calls

The 2016 election campaign is starting to heat up. Since politicians aren’t trying to sell you anything, their calls are excluded from the do-not-call rules. That means these folks can call your landline and don’t have to stop even if you ask.

The best solution may be to have Nomorobo block these robocalls. But that’s about your only defense.

How have you successfully stopped robocalls? Share your story in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

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  • Y2KJillian

    Our land line and cell providers aren’t able to offer us Nomorobo yet. I hope they do soon!

  • Dave Neuenschwander

    Most of which pretty much means you’re screwed. You’re going to continue to receive unwanted calls.

  • Clay Watson

    Digitone is not cheap, but has been the best for decades. http://consumerist.com/2015/07/28/consumers-put-robocall-blocking-devices-to-the-test/

  • Georgia Wessling

    I learned a tip that works about 75-90% of the time. I read that most major robocallers use a computer to dial your number. The 2nd time you say “hello” it switches you to a human. So, I learned to use something other than hello. So I say, “Wessling residence, May I help you? I have listened for awhile and heard the click of being hung up on. Lately, I have noticed they may also have your name as well as your number. I will answer and just say, “May I help you?” After about 5-6 seconds someone will come on and say, “Is this Georgia?” or “Mrs. Wessling?” If it is a foreign accent or they state what company they are calling from, I hang up.

  • Bob Lee

    Even if you place a complaint, it wont stop and they are so many that you’ll be making complaint all the time. I muted my phone so I don’t hear when it’s ringing, if someone I know call me they just leave a message and I call back.

  • Malcom Treadway

    My foolproof method is called: Don’t Answer The Phone.

  • Robert Teague

    Try Truecaller, it’s available on 3 mobile phone platforms; iOS, Android and Windows.

  • Goodchem3208

    Tell the politicos that you vote against any candidate who spam calls you. Then do it!

  • MrKnowitall

    There is no meat in this article.

  • Martha DeMeo

    Great tips! I’ve noticed that on some of the automated calls, I answer the phone then there is a faint noise, not a click but sorta a clunk. When I hear that I hang up immediatelyand block the number.

  • Johns.Opinion

    I talk dirty to them.

  • Un Known

    What? What? I told you not to call me. I killed them just like you wanted me to. Do you want me to name you as an accessory to murder? I will…..(Hang up)

  • Nancy

    Don’t answer the phone is good advice except that I am a freelance writer and get calls from clients and prospects from many different area codes and from numbers I don’t recognize. I have been getting calls to my cell phone which disconnect the moment I answer. I’ve read that these could be calls from reprehensible sources that collect and sell phone numbers to anyone who wants to buy them. All they want is someone to accept the call to verify that the number is active. Does anyone know about this. And is there anything to be done. I’m already on do-not-call registry.

  • omniscientperson

    Signing up for the Do not call list is a waste of time. Reporting violators to the Do not call list is a bigger waste of time as nothing is ever done.

  • bclomptwihm

    Signing up for the Do not call list is a lot more than a waste of time. Anyone can download it for free. Then they use it as a verified phone number list. If you are on the DNC you are MORE likely to receive these calls

  • Vito V

    I have been using nomorobo for about 6 months and it works great. Free too.

  • Nomorobo blocks most of them for me. It’s not foolproof, but at least it stops “Lauren at Cardholder Services” from calling at all hours of the day and night.

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