There’s no good time to receive an annoying robocall. Mobile phone carriers have apps to protect users, but how can you repel this scourge on your home’s landline? Let’s build your defenses.
It’s a war out there
Robocalls are the number one consumer complaint and the top consumer protection focus of the Federal Communications Commission. Americans receive more than 26 billion robocalls per year, so the scope of the problem is enormous. Phone spammers have technology capable of placing thousands of calls at once and spoofing legitimate numbers to fool you into answering. Many robocalls originate outside the U.S.
Most Americans are wise to the tricks of phone scammers, but telephone tricksters can take advantage of the elderly and other vulnerable people.
When it comes to mobile phones, there are several third-party protection apps from which to choose, plus the major carriers offer their own protections from robocalls. But defenses for landline phones are more limited.
Cutting the Cord
One of the first questions to consider when you want to cut down on landline robocalls is whether you need a landline at all. You may have a specific need for one, such as owning a business operated from home. But if there’s no compelling reason to keep your landline, consider joining the millions who have cut the cord.
Do Not Call Registry
If you’re keeping your landline, your first line of defense is to sign up for the national Do Not Call registry, which puts telemarketers on notice that your number is off-limits. Determined scammers may still call and legitimate businesses may be shooed away, but it’s a start.
Software-Based Protection Against Robocalls
Whether you can strengthen your defenses with software-based protection apps depends on the technology your service provider uses. The major providers like AT&T operate on Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which allows for apps that either flag robocalls or block them. Phones on old copper wiring technology, however, cannot use apps to screen callers and must rely on hardware solutions. Ask your provider what is available with your service.
The most effective third-party app available for VoiP services is Nomorobo. It’s free to landline users. (There’s a monthly subscription fee of $2 for mobile users.) When a call rings on your phone, it rings simultaneously in Nomorobo’s system. The app compares the caller’s number to a list of known robocallers. If there is a match, your phone will not ring a second time, and you’ll know Nomorobo did its job. Nomorobo continually adds to its database of known spammers, but with technology making it possible for robocallers to repeatedly develop new number combinations, it’s a perpetual game of catch-up.
A humorous, turn-the-tables service called Jolly Roger ties up telemarketers with a realistic sounding voice posing as a distracted homeowner, which frustrates the robocaller’s attempted sales pitch.
If your landline service still uses copper wiring, there are hardware robocall-blocking devices you can connect to your home phone. These come programmed to recognize a limited number of known spammers, and some rely on you to manually add numbers from robocalls you’ve received to keep the service updated. But spammers constantly change numbers and spoof legit numbers, and these devices won’t catch those robocalls.
Business lines, whether they’re in a home or a commercial building, can blunt robocalls with an automated attendant extension tree that robotic callers can’t navigate. But robocallers may still reach individual extensions if they dial them directly.
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