BBB: How to spot and stop robocalls

Americans’ phones rang 5 billion times in November just from robocalls alone, according to government figures

Protecting yourself: How to spot and try to stop robocalls

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Robocalls are described as an annoying epidemic for both businesses and the general public.

But the sheer scale of the problem is staggering when you consider that Americans’ phones rang 5 billion times in November just from robocalls alone, according to government figures.

Robocalls sometimes offer deals that seem almost too good to be true.

Just ask Deborah Williams, who recited the words of a recent call.

“The government is fixing to give you $14,000 as a grant. You never have to pay it back.”

The Shreveport resident asked, “What’s the catch?”

When the caller said there’s just a $300 fee, Williams knew it was a scam.

"Anytime you win a lottery, Publishing {sic} Clearinghouse, scratch-off, you never have to pay for the money."

Williams said she immediately called federal authorities and police to report the call.

The Number 1 scam reported to the Better Business Bureau in 2019 involved robocalls, said Andy Fisher, president of the BBB’s Shreveport office.

“I know everybody gets a robocall.”

These callers often claim to be from the IRS, the Social Security office or any number of made-up sources, Fisher explained.

"If you've got a call and you don't recognize the number, you don't recognize the person, don't answer it."

If it is a legitimate call, he advised, they should leave you a message and you can return the call.

"Most of the time they are just scams."

Fisher urges people to report any such calls.

This screen grab from the BBB Scam Tracker was captured Feb. 5.
This screen grab from the BBB Scam Tracker was captured Feb. 5. (Source: BBB)

The BBB has a Scam Tracker on its website that keeps track of them throughout the country and here in the ArkLaTex.

You also can report the unwanted or illegal calls to Federal Trade Commission and sign up for its National Do Not Call Registry.

But there are limits to the FTC’s list. For one thing, only legitimate telemarketers check it.

And these days, Fisher added, those who place robocalls can even make it look like they are locally placed calls.

Here’s one clue that it might not be a legitimate call.

“If you do answer it and there’s a two- or three-second delay, you know that it’s a recorded call," Fisher said. "Just hang up. Just hang up.”

The new robocall law also allows wireless carriers to use automatic blocks of such calls.

And there are a number of apps that enable you to block such calls.

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