It is an annoyance many of us deal with daily: incessant robocalls interrupting our lives without adding any value.
According to You Mail, a voicemail software developer, Americans received nearly 60 billion robocalls in 2019, a 22% increase from the previous year. With the 2020 presidential election in full swing, Americans should expect to see another surge in phony calls this fall.
You answer the phone to a recorded voice — one that may sound just like a high-profile candidate running for office. According to the message, rivals have been raising a lot of money. To help your favorite political contender get elected, you need to donate immediately.
If you do decide to give, you’ll be transferred to a live person and asked for your credit card information. But your money won’t end up supporting any political cause. Instead, the phony caller will make off with your money and personal information.
Action is already being taken to stop these and other types of robocalls. In January, President Trump signed into law the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, giving the Federal Communications Commission extra time and added authority to fine scammers up to $10,000 per call.
Additionally, the tech industry has developed advanced call-blocking apps that can detect robocalls before they reach your phone. Wireless service providers have also stepped up, with many now offering effective call blocking capabilities.
To make sure you’re avoiding robocalls, Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific recommends following these tips:
• Screen your calls. If a call comes in from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer. If it’s important and legitimate, they will leave a message.
• Don’t respond to unsolicited robocalls. If you receive an unsolicited robocall that seems to come from a legitimate business or organization, be cautious. Scammers can fake a caller ID. Companies are only allowed to call you via robocall with your written permission. If someone is calling you out of the blue, it’s most likely a scam.
• Register with the Do Not Call Registry. This step won’t prevent scammers from calling you, but it will reduce the number of legitimate marketing calls you receive, which will make it easier to identify the fraudulent ones. Register online at Donotcall.gov.