It’s not the big things in life that drive us crazy. It’s the small things. Small, never-ending annoyances. Like telephone robocalls.
Everyone hates those automated telephone sales pitches that seem to pop up at the worst times – especially in the age of the cell phone. Yet despite all the griping and government promises to crack down robocalls are still a sad fact of life. It’s not uncommon for me to get three or four per day.
I’ve come to believe that robocalls, like roaches, will outlive mankind. We’ll be extinct and our phones will still be ringing with special offers and “surveys.” Fortunately, there are ways to reduce their infestation of your phone.
Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry. Adding your name to the list, which is maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), can dramatically reduce the number of calls you receive – at least for a period of time. Note that it can take up to 31 days for your number to be added to the registry. It’s important to report any calls you receive after that period. Consumer complaints are the only way the FTC can determine what marketers are violating the Do Not Call Rule.
Don’t pick up the phone. If you repeatedly don’t answer calls from a robocall number, you may get deleted from that operation’s list. Of course, it’s getting harder to recognize such numbers, which seem to originate both locally and from around the country.
If you do accidentally answer a robocall, don’t fall for its claim that pressing “2” will get you deleted from their list. Best case, it does nothing. Worse case, it confirms that your number is active, which will lead to, you guessed it, more robocalls. Similarly, never respond to a robocall’s question with the word “yes.” A recording of your response could be used to authorize purchases in your name.
Block the calls. You can do this manually. But, of course, there are apps to handle the chore. Truecaller can show the real identity behind a phone number. The app also contains a list of known scam-related numbers in your area, which it uses to alert you to suspicious calls.
Turn the tables. The Jolly Roger Telephone Company lets you get some payback on robocallers and telephone hucksters. When you get a robocall, simply connect it to your Jolly Roger robot, which will “talk” to the unwanted caller until he hangs up. The robot doesn’t really talk. It plays a recording containing realistic background noises and a human voice periodically saying, “Sure!” or “Uh-huh.”
Jolly Roger sends you a recording of every call. The service costs $6 per year. But that’s a lot of fun for six bucks!