Spam calls are unbelievably annoying and, at times, seemingly incessant. Once your number makes it onto some sort of list, the deluge of robocalls and messages from scam artists can drive anyone mad.
While some spam calls are easy to screen, scam artists have grown increasingly clever when it comes to coercing you to pick up the phone. One trick they use is to call from a number that is either similar to yours or comes from the same area code. So, for instance, if you’re phone number is (555)-315-3852, you might see a spam call on your phone from (555)-315-3258.
Spam calls and recordings to ignore
If you get a call from a familiar-looking number, you’re more likely to believe it’s legitimate. It’s only human nature, after all. In these scenarios, however, there’s a strong chance the number itself is fake. Scam artists use this spoofing tactic to purposefully hide the actual number they’re calling from. That being the case, it’s inevitable that some spam calls will go through.
If you pick up the phone and you hear a recording on the other line, the FCC advises you to hang up immediately. If you’re prompted to respond to a question — even if the question is ‘Would you like to stop receiving these calls?’ — the FCC says to hang up and not answer.
The reasoning behind this guidance is two-fold. For one, if you answer “yes” or press a number on the keypad, it signals that there’s a real person on the other line. This incentivizes scammers to keep trying to scam you. It also increases the odds your number will be sold to others.
Second, the FCC a few years ago said that some scammers want users to say the word “Yes” so that they can record it and use it to authorize charges to a user’s credit card.
Other tips to stop robocalls and potential scams
According to the FCC, there are a few tips to keep in mind to avoid falling victim to a robocall or scammer:
- If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords, or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
How to silence spam calls on your iPhone
If you have an iPhone and want to stop robocalls, there is a solution. Simply go to Settings > Phone where you should then see a toggle for “Silence Unknown Callers.” If you turn this on, every call from an unknown number will go right to voicemail. The good news is that if it’s a legitimate call, the number will still show up on your list of recent calls.
Note that when the feature is turned on, the only calls that will go through are limited to numbers from your contacts, numbers that you’ve called previously, and numbers from Siri Suggestions.