Take your phone back: 3 ways to stop getting robocalls

Fight back against telemarketers and robocallers

Sales calls offering roof work, credit cards, low mortgage rates, refinance offers, and other services many consumers say they don't want or need; once the calls begin it can seem impossible to make them stop.

If it seems like you're getting more of these unwanted contacts, you likely are. More than three billion robocalls were placed last month alone. Computerized dialing software allows businesses to place automated calls to your landline and mobile phones for just one cent per call. Both legitimate sales businesses and scammers are taking advantage. Consumers can receive a couple calls every now and then. Others complain of getting up to twenty calls a day from computerized voices looking to sell them something.

"I absolutely hate it!" says Victor Romero. He says despite having signed up for the national do not call registry, the annoying calls keep coming. He is one of millions of people harassed by unwanted calls.

"The numbers just come up on the caller ID, so we don't answer," says Pam Roberts, also irritated with the constant calls. She says she added her number to the do not call list years ago, but says the calls only stopped temporarily. Roberts says her phone rings daily with numbers that share her area code and prefix, but are otherwise unrecognizable to her. She knows they are telemarketers and she simply ignores the calls.

Adding your number to the national do not call registry works only as much as the business honors the list. But, you can use the same mobile phone they're calling to make them stop. Free downloadable apps like True Caller and Mr. Number have received positive reviews from consumers looking to take their phones back.

Another option is to use your cell phone to block the numbers. It is a more time-consuming method, but guarantees you won't get another call from the particular number you block. You can usually unblock numbers if you later choose to. Steps to block numbers:

  1. Click on the phone icon
  2. Click on the caller or number you wish to block
  3. Select "block" or "report spam" or "do not receive call" or similar option

Newer smartphones often come equipped with built-in, more streamlined blocking features. The process for activating them varies according to your phone.

It is less of a headache to prevent getting these calls in the first place. Be very cautious about the personal informational you give out. Signing up for retail discounts, coupons, and special offers often require your phone number, email address, and other contact information. Companies use your data to make money, by selling it to businesses willing to pay for it.

With the exception of election and charitable organization phone calls, it is illegal for companies to continue contacting numbers on the national do not call list.

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