The phone rings, you look at the number and you go through your mental checklist before deciding to answer or not.
- Is it one of my contacts?
- Is it a local number?
- Have I made an outgoing call to set an appointment and it might be them?
If you have a cell phone you may do this dance on average six times a day.
According to Forbes 4.6 billion robocalls were made in May of 2018 causing a declining faith in caller identification and a mistrust of phone calls as a means of communication(2018). How many of us cringe when the phone rings? Look through your missed calls and count how many are numbers you don’t recognize?
By the end of 2018, YouMail reports that number jumped to a total of 48 billion! A 56.7% increase over 2017(YouMail, 2019). This number is astounding and we deserve to know how this happened, and what can I do to minimize the constant disruptive robocalls?
The simple answer is behavioral finance and how our sharing of information and interaction with technology impacts us in a very unexpected way. I recently went online and did a search for health insurance. I filled out my name and email to get free information. We have all done this, and not disclosing my phone number gave me the impression this was safe. I registered my cell number on the national Do Not Call Registry so I shouldn’t get any calls. According to the federal trade commission a company that you submit an inquiry with can contact you up to three months. If you have made a purchase online or established a business relationship they can contact you for 18 months. Before you sign up for that free giveaway know that the fine print means robo calls.
There are several ways to protect yourself and your family. The most important is DO NOT ANSWER, it triggers more calls. It’s okay if you have answered, just move forward following these four easy steps and eventually the onslaught of calls should decrease.
- Register all numbers at the Do Not Call Registry Telemarketers are required to reference the call list every 31 days. After 31 days if you receive unwanted calls you can report the call.
- Report the call to Federal Trade Commission. This can be done online. Robo calls mean there isn’t a live person. Just a recorded message.
- You could block the number, especially those using software to mimic your area code but this is not an effective method as they spoof or change their numbers.
- Install call blocking software. One of my favorites is RoboKiller. This is an app for android or iphone and it blocks 1.1 million robocalls. It also has pre-recorded messages to engage in conversation with a live person. You can listen to the recorded message and enjoy the sweet revenge of telemarketers being heckled. Some others include Nomorobo, Hiya Caller ID and Block, and Truecaller– these strive to block disreputable telemarketing and Robo calls.
Your best defense is a good offense and smart financial behavior. Do not give your information out online even if its for a sweepstakes or a survey. There is no such thing as harmless sharing of information. Its important to remember, some organizations can still call you even if you are on the Do Not Call List. Political organizations, charities and telephone surveyors. Here is a full list of who may call you Consumer FAQs.
Debt collectors are different than robocalls or telemarketers and may continue to call you whether your number is on the Registry or not. Know your rights regarding debt collection. If a debt collector is not respecting your rights, REPORT IT HERE.(FTC, 2019).
Hopefully I have eased the guilt of not answering the phone. It wasn’t Aunt Amy from Kansas City calling and if it was she should know to text not call!