Some robocalls are helpful, like the recording that says your child’s school is having a snow day. Or the call that your flight has been delayed.
But most – representing politicians or telemarketers – have become an annoying fact of life.
A study conducted by the telecom services firm YourMail found that consumers were hit with a record 47.8 billion automated calls in 2018. And Illinois had the sixth most in the nation, with 1.8 billion calls.
A few of CUB’s tips: If you have a landline, screen your calls with an answering machine. If you do pick up, hang up as soon as you realize it’s an unwanted call. Avoid the temptation to call back to complain. And don’t ever say “yes.” A recording of you saying “yes” could be used to charge your credit card.
To reduce the number of calls, you can get on the national Do Not Call list online or by calling 888-382-1222.
You can also use the “Do Not Disturb” feature of your cell phone to create a “white list” of phone numbers that will ring through – all others will go to voice mail.
There are also services and devices available to help block calls. And the telecom companies themselves often have call-blocking services.
Some robocalls are illegal, like prerecorded messages promoting goods or services, unless a company gets your written permission to call.
If you think you have received an illegal call, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP or www.FTC.gov/complaint.
Joining us in discussion is CUB’s director of communications, Jim Chilsen, who wrote the new guide for fighting robocalls.