Stop the robocalls! How to help silence your phone – NBC Los Angeles
If you receive robocalls every day, you’re not alone. These pesky calls keep coming, even though the government has tried to stop them. But there are steps you can take to help silence your phone.
It is estimated that four billion robocalls arrive on our phones every year. Many of them call for dollars – scammers trying to trick us into handing over our money. Daniel Unger lost $11,000 after a bot caller spoofed his bank’s phone number, tricking him into thinking his bank was calling and asking him to reset his password.
“It’s embarrassing to realize that all you had to do was hang up or not answer the phone,” Unger said. “But the way they spoofed it, the way they imitated the phone call, I never got over it in my head, so mentally they got me.”
YouMail CEO Alex Quilici has been battling robocalls for years.
“The economics of robocalls is that it’s so cheap to make a million calls that you don’t have to have a lot of people answering to make a profit,” Quilici said.
He says the federal government has tried to help — last summer it started requiring cellphone carriers to block calls from spoofed numbers. Quilici says it works, but it doesn’t entirely solve the problem.
“If I’m a bad guy, I can just go and get a million real phone numbers that an operator will say, ‘Yeah, that’s really my number,'” he explained. “We are already seeing this happening on a large scale. So the bad guys actually look like the good guys.
But Quilici says there are things you can do to help reduce robocalls. First of all, if an unknown number appears on your phone, do not answer. If he leaves a voicemail, do not return the call.
And if you’re answering a number you recognize, perhaps from your bank, make sure the number hasn’t been spoofed.
“Just because it says it’s Citibank doesn’t mean it’s Citibank,” Quilici said. “Go to the website, look at your credit card, call this number and say, ‘Hey, I just got a call from you, is that really you?'”
Finally, install an app designed to block robocalls. The Quilici company, YouMail, has one that you can download for free. There are others on the market too, like Robokiller and Nomorobo. Quilici says YouMail stops about 80% of bad calls.
And there’s a collective benefit to using an app: it helps put calling bots out of business. Companies like YouMail report all robocall numbers they collect to law enforcement.
“So the more consumers who have apps like ours, the faster the bad guys are caught,” Quilici said.
Quilici thinks we’ll see a significant drop in robocalls over the next few years. But he expects to see an increase in spam. His hope is that spam detection will soon be integrated into smartphones, so that we won’t even see calls or texts. Instead, they will be automatically blocked, like most spam.