If it feels like you’ve been getting more and more spam calls on your cell phone lately, you’re not crazy. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), it’s the top consumer complaint and their top protection priority. Unfortunately, spammers and robo-callers have gotten more aggressive as new technologies have evolved. But that’s not to say we have zero ability to dial down the volume of potential scams.
The FCC offers a few tips that can help:
- First, if you answer a call before realizing it’s a robo-caller or other spam, hang up as quickly as possible.
- Don’t push any buttons or respond to questions, especially ones that can be answered with “yes.”
- It goes without saying, but is still good to be reminded that you should never give out personal information like Social Security and credit card numbers or password hints.
- If they claim to be collecting debt or offering money, but haven’t previously sent you a written statement, it’s most likely a scam and should be hung up on.
- Register your number with the government’s Do Not Call list and report any spam numbers that manage to still get through to you.
They also recommend not picking up phone calls from numbers you don’t recognize, but that can be difficult if you’re expecting a call from someone who isn’t in your phonebook. Robocalls have learned to “spoof” phone numbers, which means they can make them appear to be coming from your local area and even match numbers you’re familiar with receiving.
If you do notice a number that leaves a message and clearly sounds like spam, you can use your phone to block it. For iPhones, you just need to click on the information button next to the number listed in your recent calls, then scroll down to select “block this caller.” If you accidentally block a number that turns out not to be a scam, you can un-block them in the Phone section of your Settings. Newer models offer an option to “Silence Unknown Callers,” which sends those numbers directly to voicemail, also found in the Phone section. On Androids, you can do a long-press on the recent caller number you’ve identified as spam and select “block/report spam.”
Hopefully the FCC crackdown will bring an end to these frustrating phone calls entirely soon, but we're glad there's ways to silence them in the meantime.