SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – If your phone has been ringing more than usual lately, it’s not your imagination.
Robocalls are on the rise, but new efforts are underway in Washington to hang them up for good.
Robocalls have increased dramatically in recent years, jumping from 172-thousand in 2015 to 232-thousand in 2018.
Bruce Cierpial of Chicopee told 22News, he knows better than to answer the calls, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. “I bet I get anywhere from five to 10 a day, it’s annoying, annoying, annoying,” Cierpial said.
Sometimes, it’s fairly obvious the call is a scam, but thanks to spoofed calls with local area codes, it’s not always easy to figure out.
John Lolos has experienced it one too many times. “It’s gotten a lot worse, especially with the spoofing. For so long I was answering it, thinking maybe it’s my brother or sister at somebody’s house, but it’s not. It’s really annoying,” Lolos said.
The Federal Trade Commission says your best bet is to avoid answering calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize, even if they appear to be local. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message.
Keep in mind that local businesses, including doctor’s offices or insurance agents, may appear to be calling you. If you’re not certain whether the call is legitimate or a spoof, hang up and dial the known phone number to verify the communication.
So what’s driving the increase in robocalls? According to the FTC, one of the biggest reasons behind the increase is that the technology to call millions of phones every day has gotten extremely cheap and is also easy to use.
Ironically, MarketWatch says the large number of people screening their calls has also led to the increase. Since people are less likely to answer, scammers are more likely to keep calling until somebody eventually does.
Illegal robocallers are criminals who are usually looking to steal your money or your personal information. Since that’s their goal, they’re going to keep calling until they get what they’re looking for.
That’s why Congress is now stepping to silence the ringing.
The house just passed the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, which would force phone companies to authorize caller ID, before your phone can even ring.
In the meantime, the Federal Trade Commission has three pieces of advice: hang up, block and report.
They urge consumers not to even engage with the people on the other line. Even pressing a button can result in more calls, so if a robocall promises to remove you from a list if you hit a button, don’t buy it.
You can also reduce the number of robocalls by downloading call-blocking technologies.
Lastly, report the call after you hang up. The FTC need as much information as possible to target, and possible prosecute illegal robocallers.