- Spam calls are worse than ever.
That's not just my opinion, it's not just how we all feel,
Robocall complaints to the federal trade commission
have quintupled since 2009,
and they jumped steeply in just the past year
to four and a half million total.
And that's just Robocalls.
There are another two and a half million complaints
about live telemarketers.
So what on earth can we do to start fighting back
against all these spammy calls?
There are three steps you can take,
they won't solve the problem entirely,
but if you're fed up, this is what you can do
to start fighting back.
Okay so, step number one:
Use a call-blocking app,
there are a whole bunch of these,
and they all try to do the same thing,
block spam calls before you have to answer your phone.
Some of the most popular include Hiya and Truecaller,
which are free.
And Nomorobo and RoboKiller, which require a subscription.
We're gonna use Nomorobo,
because it won the FTC's Robocall Blocking Challenge.
But these all work more or less the same,
and they work for both iOS and Android.
Once you've installed it, you'll have to get
the app permission to handle your Caller ID.
They also have a huge
constantly updating list of known spammers.
And it check those numbers against who's calling you,
if it sees that a known spammer is calling you,
it either won't let the number through,
or it'll identify you when they're calling.
If the app does let a spam call through by accident,
then you can tell it that,
and it will then fact that information in for everybody else
to help them blocking more spam calls.
Since most of these apps are free,
there's no harm in just trying one and out,
to see how it works for you.
But before we go any further,
what's behind all these spam calls anyway?
Since our private numbers are basically everywhere now,
mainly on our online accounts,
pasted at our email signatures,
and printed on business cards.
In giving our phone numbers to pretty much everyone,
there's a good chance they will be shuffled along
to someone they shouldn't.
Plus, thanks to auto-dialing software and the internet,
scammers can place thousands of calls on the minute,
for really cheap.
They can even guess out numbers if they want to.
And once they're dialed,
the auto-dialer can then play back a pre-recorded message,
when someone would talk.
Technology is also making spammers more clever.
Letting them disguise their phone number
as a local one with your own area code.
That way, you're more likely to answer,
giving each fake call, a better chance of landing.
But why do we receive so many spam calls?
Well, as you can guess,
someone is profiting from this.
The caller ID company Truecaller
estimates that phone scammers made 9.5 Billion in 2016,
from Americans alone.
And the more calls they send out,
the more chances they have of finding a target.
And while this is a huge problem,
it's actually really hard to crack down on it.
Making spammy calls like these,
are largely illegal in the US.
But Robocalls can be placed from overseas,
and there's not much that
the United States can do about that.
And for phone service providers,
it can be hard to tell whether a call that's coming in,
is from a scammer, or from someone
you actually wanna get in touch with.
They have to be careful not to block any calls
that really should have been let through.
And it's important to know that some Robocalls are legal.
Your pharmacy might call you.
- [Phone] Your prescription is ready.
- [Jake] Or your child's school.
- [Phone] We're closed due to inclement weather.
- [Jake] Or even an airline.
- [Phone] Your gate has changed.
- [Jake] Generally speaking, these are all legal.
The focus is on those calls from scammers.
Claiming you want a free cruise,
or they can lower your interest rate,
or that the FBI is looking for you.
The service Youmail estimates that 30% to 40%
of all Robocalls are scams.
And you definitely shouldn't be receiving those calls.
Alright, so what else can you do to stop spam calls?
Well, there are a few other things.
First, make sure your number
is on the National Do Not Call Registry
if you're in the United States.
Assuming those calls were coming in legally,
that could start to come down on some of them.
Second, see what your phone provider can do.
AT&T and T-Mobile both offer services that are designed
to identify spammy callers,
when they hit your phone.
Verizon and Sprint have similar services,
but they all charge for it.
And finally, know what is it you do
when you get a spam call.
Don't talk? Don't press any buttons?
Don't let them know that a human is on the line,
or they might be likely to call back.
Also, be aware of what
some of the most common phone scams are,
like free travel packages.
So you don't give them your time or money.
If you really do wanna talk to somebody,
consider calling them back,
from a number that you know is legitimate.
Also, and this is really important,
when you're handing out your information over the phone,
make sure you're really identifying yourself,
rather than handing your identity to somebody
who doesn't already have it.
Unfortunately, it might never be possible
to fully put a stop to Robocalls,
but you're not defenseless against them.
The government, and phone carriers,
are doing their best to doing their best
to put a stop to them.
And, if you take some of these steps,
you'll be able to start reducing the annoyance.
Hey, thanks for watching, this is part of our series,
Work Flow, where we show you how we're using our own tech,
to make our lives a little bit easier.
If you wanna see some more,
be sure to subscribe to The Verge.