5 On Your Side

Carriers, government pitch in to stop robocalls

Posted August 14, 2017 6:15 p.m. EDT
Updated August 14, 2017 6:54 p.m. EDT

Not answering is one way to try to stop robocalls, but with so many coming in all the time, blocking numbers isn't the most effective way.

Some carriers are now helping to block those unwanted calls on both land lines and cell phones.

Every day, the Federal Trade Commission gets tens of thousands of numbers reported. The agency is now sharing those numbers with carriers to try to block them.

“I get about five or six robocalls per week," said Carol Berkow. "The area codes are from all over the country."

A recent Consumer Reports survey shows at least 62 percent of AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon customers received six or more robocalls per week.

But it can be worse.

“We’re hearing about ringless voicemail, where calls are directly deposited into consumers voice mail boxes without the phone ever ringing," said Consumer Reports Money Editor Margot Gilman. "They can fill up your voicemail inbox and block important messages, which is why we believe it’s important that consumers have protections from them.”

For calls that don't skip the ring, though, phone carriers now offer some help.

AT&T has a free app for customers that automatically blocks scam calls. It works on iPhone 6 models and newer, and Androids that can use AT&T HD Voice.

T-Mobile offers free scam call-blocking, and Sprint and Verizon have apps that display the caller’s name on your screen if they're not already in your contacts.

Verizon has also made it easier to sign up with the popular robocall blocker, Nomorobo. It's a third-party service that identifies and blocks known robocallers and telemarketers.

One caution when you sign up for an app or service, though: Make sure you're OK with the kind of information you have to disclose in order to prevent robocalls.

Another way to fight back is to report robocalls to the FTC. You'll need the number that called, just enter it at complaints.donotcall.gov.