Junk calls and robocalls are now completely out of control. If you’re looking for ways to stop them, we’ve got some options for you.
Learn how to stop robocalls with these free and pay services
For a number of years, junk calls were not a hassle for people. The National Do Not Call Registry worked well for a while. Legitimate companies were generally very compliant and the violations that did occur were rare. Those that did violate the law were subject to heavy fines.
Then suddenly, in the last couple of years, the number of junk calls started climbing. By some accounts, nearly 31 billion robocalls were placed in 2017. Estimates suggest that number will top out 48 billion this year!
Why the sudden spike in robocalls and junk calls? It’s because the technology exists that allows criminals to make unlimited calls — virtually for free — to every single number established in North America, including the U.S., Canada and many parts of the Caribbean.
From there, it’s a numbers game for the crooks. They only need a small fraction of the number of people they call to believe the pitch and send them their hard-earned money.
SHAKEN and STIR-red
The good news is there’s a robust two-pronged caller authentication initiative underway that you’ll start to see rolling out in 2019, according to USA Today.
Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information using ToKENs (SHAKEN) and Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) are dual tech efforts that aim to prove a given call originates from the number that it says it does.
Key to this effort is the use of token technology (aka creating a digital signature) as a stamp of approval a call originates.
Unfortunately, the two technologies won’t out-and-out block robocalls when used in concert. What they will do is show some mark of verification on your phone to indicate that a call is legitimately coming from the number you see displayed.
There’s no consensus yet on exactly how legit calls will display on your screen, but USA Today reports it’s expected to be a green check mark or something along those lines.
So what can you do until this new initiative kicks in sometime next year? Until then, you have to fight technology with technology…
Free services and apps: Nomorobo, Youmail and Hiya
Nomorobo is a free service for VoiP landlines that boasts of having stopped nearly a quarter of a billion robocalls! There’s also a mobile version for iOS and Android, but that costs $1.99/month.
The latter uses an algorithm that determines if there is a phone number making thousands of brief phone calls. Additionally, app users can submit a community report that warns others if a certain phone number is fraudulent.
Some wireless carriers offer free robocall blocking, too
T-Mobile, in cooperation with Hiya, has made great strides in blocking robocalls.
AT&T, meanwhile, was an early mover in this space. Back in 2016, AT&T released its Call Protect app — a free mobile app that automatically vets incoming calls to make sure they’re not associated with robocall scams.
Pay services from Verizon, RoboKiller
Verizon has similar capabilities, but unfortunately charges its customers $2.99 a month for them.
Also on the pay front, RoboKiller uses artificial intelligence to tie up the junk phone callers trying to rip you off.
This service, which costs $2.99 a month, analyzes the first few seconds of your incoming calls to make sure noise patterns indicative of humans (not machines) are detected. Their system also uses whitelist and blacklist filtering, much like your e-mail at work, so you can whitelist a number like your child’s school that may send out robocalls with closing-related info.
Don’t forget this low-tech solution…
Ultimately, the best solution may be the low-tech one. If you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer — period!
If it is somebody whose call you should have taken, you’ll usually get a voicemail within seconds. Then, you can listen and call them back.