[HOWTO] Stop Annoying Robocalls

Category: Telephony

If you ever called your phone carrier to demand it block all robocalls, you probably heard the excuse, “We can’t legally do that.” That’s a lie, and the FCC is tired of being its scapegoat. Here's what you and the FCC can do to help stop annoying telemarketers and robocalls...

FCC Urges Telcos to Provide Anti-Robocall Tools

“Nothing in the Commission’s rules and orders prevents (phone companies) from offering customers robocall blocking technology,” writes FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in letters to the CEOs AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. “I strongly urge you to offer your customers robust call blocking at no cost.”

Legitimate (but still annoying) robocalls and automated text messages have virtually disappeared thanks to the federal Do-Not-Call List law and other laws that prohibit robocalls to customers who have not given explicit consent to them. Yet complaints to the FCC about robocalls continue to climb, indicating that most robocalls now come from illegal operators, often scammers.

Stop Robocalls

But carriers resist blocking any calls, citing concerns (but no real-world examples) that they might get sued for blocking legitimate calls. They also argue that they shouldn’t have to do any blocking until new Caller-ID authentication standards are adopted. “That is not a valid excuse to delay” deployment of existing blocking technology, says Wheeler in his letter.

Wheeler wrote a separate letter to backbone Internet service providers such as Level 3 and Bandwidth.com. Backbone providers provide interconnections between ISPs’ networks, and also connect Internet phone service companies to mobile and landline networks.

In that letter, Wheeler urges the Internet companies to make it more difficult for scammers to fake (“spoof”) Caller-ID data as it moves from network to network, making it appear (for example) to potential victims that some scammer in Nigeria is their bank’s customer service department. To that end, Wheeler proposes a “Do Not Originate” list.

Other Tech to Stop Robocalls

“The Do-Not-Originate list would allow domestic entities that are regularly impersonated by caller ID spoofing, such as government agencies, financial institutions, or health care facilities, to register their outbound numbers in a database,” explains Wheeler. “If a call from one of these numbers reaches a gateway from outside the United States, it could be marked as suspicious or blocked, likely significantly reducing fraud.”

In other words, if “the Mayo Clinic” tries to call you from Russia instead of Minnesota, it’s probably a scammer spoofing the Mayo Clinic’s Caller-ID info. Such calls could be blocked, or at least tagged so they can be traced if necessary.

Consumers can add their signatures to petitions that will reach telco CEOs, demanding the anti-robocall tools that their carriers can and should provide. Optionally, one can sign up to receive email updates on this battle from the Consumers Union “End Robocalls” campaign.

Tools You Can Use Now

Nomorobo is a popular solution to block annoying robocalls and telemarketers. But the free service only works for those who have VoIP (Internet-based) phone service. Nomorobo also has paid options to block calls on smartphones.

But there's also a free option for mobile phones. TrueCaller is an app for Android or iPhone that pops up when a call comes in, and flags numbers that are known to be scammers and spammers. You can block unwanted calls easily.

Google Voice is the best solution I know of for good old-fashioned copper-wire landlines. When you forward your landline to a free Google Voice number, calls are automatically answered, voicemails are transcribed into text, then emailed to you. Of course, you can answer calls from numbers that you know are real people. Google Voice blocks many known phone spammers, but you can selectively silence or block calls from as many numbers as you like.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "[HOWTO] Stop Annoying Robocalls"

(See all 35 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

29 Nov 2016

I am a Southwestern Bell Telephone retiree. I saw Caller ID implemented before the public was aware of it.It wasn't perfect then and it is not perfect now.Most of us have a smart phone of some type.I have a cheap Samsung Galaxy Express 3.Build a Contact list and call it BOGUS or whatever you like,and populate it with the robo numbers. THEN Call Block each one.Your phone Might ring once and show a BOGUS call,no names,no numbers.And you Clear your phone Log every day don't you children? And children stop with the ^%$#@! phones and Learn to talk face-to-face again and you won't have any of these problems in the First Place. You are a Bunch of Spoiled-Ass-Brats with too much time on your hands. Get a JOB and a LIFE.

Posted by:

Bob K.
29 Nov 2016

I've tried NOMOROBO's website & it does NOT send the initial email it's supposed to send.. Their robo sender doesn't work.

Posted by:

29 Nov 2016

Due to circumstances involved in moving, I created a google voice number BEFORE connecting my landline (VOIP). By the time I moved and got a landline, everyone had the Google Voice number and that is the only number I give out. It rings both my landline AND my cell phone. If only the landline rings, odds are REALLY high that it is a robo call or spam.
I HIGHLY recommend Google Voice!!!!

Posted by:

29 Nov 2016

@myobcomp. Excellent suggestions. On it. Thanks. My oldest kid just told me Facebook is the new way Millennials communicate..."Move into the 21st Century, Dad!" BIllions of folks on it!

Posted by:

29 Nov 2016

When a call comes to an iPhone, it can be blocked. Permanently. Don't have an iPhone on my landline, so Verizon allegedly blocks up to 5 calls for 90 days. The last time I entered 5 numbers into Verizon's block-call list, it took most of two weeks for the calls to stop. Verizon's method is a joke. Every line should have a permanent block call list available.

Posted by:

29 Nov 2016

NoMoRobo really worked great until I found it occasionally dumped wanted phone calls from family. I think the only approach that makes sense is let the answering system take calls you don't know. If it was an important (non Robo) call they will leave a message.

Posted by:

charles chambers
29 Nov 2016

I have used Phone Tray for years and you can block any kind of number or no number, name ect. I have not found any # or name that I block. The only is you have to leave your computer on all the time (I use an old xp computer for it.) Also Phone Tray takes all reported robo calls and updates your computer each night (if you wont it to anual fee $10.00)
PhoneTray Free - latest version 2016 free download
PhoneTray Free 1.39 free download. Get new version of PhoneTray Free. Caller ID software ✓ Free ✓ Updated ✓ Download now.

Posted by:

30 Nov 2016

I have nomorobo for a couple of years and it has slow my calls. Most spam calls rings once and disconnect. For my cell I use HIJA which is a free app and work great. Block calls without a ring. You can also block manually and report them so the database can be updated.

Posted by:

30 Nov 2016

I use an app called HIYA on my Android that works quite well. It blocks most known robo/spam calls and you can block any phone #you wish.

Posted by:

30 Nov 2016

Nomorobo is working great.No reports from anybody I know about not getting thru.

Posted by:

30 Nov 2016

In my area the Robo callers have found a way to use local phone numbers to call from. I found it out when I tried to call back when one of them got real nasty to my wife. The number was a local area code and a local exchange. When I called it back I go a local company that had no idea how their number got hi-jacked.

Posted by:

30 Nov 2016

I was looking for a new caller ID machine for my elderly mother when I came across a CPR Callblocker V5000 machine on Amazon. It comes preloaded with 5000 blocked numbers of known offensive callers. It also is a caller ID machine that with one push of a button a number can be added to the blocked list. When I go to her house I look at the numbers that have called and I can then add them to the blocked list if they don't check out. It can't stop them all but the phone has just about gone silent. It's only been a couple of weeks but looks very promising.

Posted by:

Bob Greene
30 Nov 2016

Nomorobo's privacy policy is a notch above average, in promising it will not disclose personally-identifiable information to any third-parties. This is the good part, in a service to stop unsolicited calls.

The questionable part is Nomorobo's contract allows the company to call or email the subscriber, as the company deems "necessary". That is, Nomorobo has sole discretion to determine that necessity, and is allowed under the contract (a terms of service agreement) to promote its products and services in that call or in that emailed message. The company is allowed to call any phone in the household system connected to the registered number.

In other words, we are asked by Nomorobo to sign an agreement to halt unsolicited third-party calls but allow Nomorobo, itself, to make periodic and/or "service upgrade" sales calls through signing the terms of service agreement.

In at least some cases, it may be a close race between the number of unsolicited regular and periodic calls previously received from unknown third-parties, and the number from Nomorobo, itself. Our mileage may vary.

Posted by:

Bob Who
30 Nov 2016

A very low tech solution it to find a disconnected number and record the three tone and voice message. The "No further information is available about" ,insert your number, placed on your answering machine will cause the robo caller to hiccup and give up the ghost most of the time. Then all you have to do is call back the people who you know when you get back and explain why you put that message on your answering machine.

Posted by:

30 Nov 2016

If a number that I don't recognize calls me I don't answer it. It's just that simple. Eventually the robocallers will get tired of the voicemail and stop calling.

Posted by:

Bob Kinsler
30 Nov 2016

Did you know that per FCC you can sue the firm that is using robotcalls at $500 per call received?

Check it out and remind them when they get on the telephone that per FCC rules and regulation you will pursue legal action against them (and that you have been contacted xx times)which will be in addition to court cost.

There again, FTC has a complaint site where you can drop a few complaints along with the telephone number and discussion with the individual.

Posted by:

01 Dec 2016

I've used NoMoreRobo on my ATT landline, and it works very well. The robo call rings once or twice, I don't get that announcement saying who's calling, and I ignore the call. Only once in approximately 2 years did a non-robo call get blocked. And I don't think I have VoIP.

Posted by:

01 Dec 2016

The Do-Not-Call-List is useless. I receive more robo calls than I ever have.

Posted by:

Rick Smith
04 Dec 2016

I stumbled across TrueCaller months ago and really like it. You not only can block the calls but see who is calling and where their location is. Great tool.

Posted by:

Joe Dixson
12 Dec 2016

1. We need help from the FCC and/or congress and I don't see that being a priority. I've written my Senator and received the usual obligatory response and no action. So, I decided to forward my phone to his office one day a month. I warn my friends in advance not to call me and I make sure I'm not scheduled to get a reminder call from the Dentist, Doctor, or whoever. Maybe next I'll forward to the FCC or customer support at my carrier, Centurylink.
2. Robo calls are generated by a computer, when someone answers the phone there is a pause then the computer passes the call to a person. I'm looking for a someone to write a program that could be sent back down my DSL line to the robo computer and destroy the data base.

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