DENVER -- Being on the Do Not Call list may stop some scammers from calling your phone, but it doesn't stop them all.
Many phone owners report unwanted calls are out of control, and the problem has gotten worse, even after signing up for the Do Not Call list.
Mark Smith, a retired farmer, said he just wants to enjoy some peace and quiet, but his phone keeps ringing with pesky unwanted calls.
“Oh, for crying out loud,” said Smith. “I can’t go one day without getting a call!”
Smith says he is already on the Do Not Call list.
“It doesn’t do any good,” said Smith.
The scammers often say they’re with the IRS, they want to offer their would-be victims a free vacation, or they say it’s ‘card services’ with an issue about his credit card.
The Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the federal Do Not Call list, has seen a nearly 50% increase in complaints about Do Not Call violations and robocalls since 2015.
In 2015, the agency received 3.5 million complaints, and in 2016 took 5.3 million complaints, according to data obtained by Scripps journalists.
Phone companies have started the Robocall Strike Force to look at addressing the issue.
AT&T says they have released a free service call AT&T Call Protect which blocks fraud calls before the reach customers' phones.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-California) has introduced ROBOCOP legislation that would require companies to offer free call blocking technology on your phone.
Tips For You To Curb Unwanted Calls
- Ask your phone company what call blocking solutions they offer
- Sign up for the federal and state Do Not Call lists
- Contact your state and federal lawmakers and tell them to take action
- If a scammer calls, do not answer, talk or press buttons; this will get you even more phone calls
While phone companies work on the wide-reaching solutions, the following apps will either notify you that a call is suspect or disconnect you before your phone even rings.
Free iPhone and Android apps to help block unwanted calls:
Statement from AT&T on addressing unwanted calls
- AT&T is committed to finding tools and solutions to abate the proliferation of illegal and unwanted robocalls and to helping consumers have more control over the calls they wish to receive.
- Last year, AT&T, along with a group of more than 30 companies, formed a Robocall Strike Force and met biweekly between August and October to develop solutions to address unwanted and illegal robocalling.
- The Robocall Strike Force consolidated its findings and issued both short and long-term goals in a report. As outlined in the report, the work of the group continues within industry associations, such as USTelecom, CTIA, and standards-setting body ATIS.
- In December, AT&T released a free service called “AT&T Call Protect,” which blocks fraudulent and unwanted calls at the network level before they reach our customers' phones.
- Currently, AT&T is working with vendors to ensure we are ready for carrier interoperability verification by the 4th quarter of 2017, which will provide another layer to identify and mitigate robocalls.
- We recognize that robocalls are a problem and we are working to find solutions for our customers.
Statement from Verizon
As you are no doubt aware, Verizon participated in four workgroups (co-chairing one of them) which brought carriers together to work through ways we can address this problem, including how we can work more effectively with law enforcement to address the root cause. Verizon is making progress on each of the areas outlined in the Strike Force’s Final Report, including creating and testing new tools that further empower our customers to address unwanted robocalls.
In fact, Verizon is currently trialing a new service for incoming calls that will help our customers identify robocallers and spam callers. It’s currently on a limited number of Android devices and we’ll make it available on additional ones this year.
In addition, Verizon has been a leader in working with members of the communications ecosystem to identify “bad actors” who continue to make millions of illegal robocalls. We also were a founding member of the Trusted Carrier Framework established by the U.S. Telecom Association’s Robocall Working Group, which has been working with like-minded carriers to address numerous mass calling events.
As you can see, Verizon is doing its part to help address this robocall issue. While much progress has been made, there’s still substantial work to be done. We look forward to working with other carriers and the government to achieve meaningful advances to combat robocalls.
Statement from the Federal Communications Commission
I think it’s important to remember that the Do Not Call registry (primarily administered by the FTC, though we’re involved) only relates to telemarketing calls – so it does not apply to non-marketing robocalls. Also, it does not block calls but rather informs callers which numbers not to call. For callers that perhaps are trying to scam or defraud people, they too often ignore this list. From there, we rely on consumer complaints to inform investigations and enforcement actions. In addition, we are working to empower consumers to have access to services that will actively block unwanted calls. We are also working with phone companies to help them block spoofed calls that are clearly not legitimate (such as robocalls pretending to be from an area code that doesn’t exist). The industry-led Robocall Strike Force has been important in items like this.