Tech Talk: June 2017

Telemarketers, Robocalls and Surveys, Oh My

By Monica Spilman | Posted on 06.27.17 – Lifestyles, Tech Talk

They say that answering a call with an unknown number is like playing Russian Roulette with your productive time, and I couldn’t agree more. Only a couple of decades ago, cell phones were rare and caller ID was rarer. Back then we had to answer the ringing landline and take our chances, or let it go to the answering machine and hope that if it was important they would leave a message. Today, however, more that 50 percent of U.S. households have switched exclusively to cell phones with built-in caller identification.

Along with these advances in technology, however, are advancements in the telemarketing industry. The industry was once driven exclusively by a large workforce of professional human telemarketers calling from physical phones. Modern technology made it cheap and easy to create computers called “robocallers” that make infinite phone calls from anywhere in the world that display fake caller ID information or hides the caller information altogether. When the recipient answers, the robocaller either proceeds with a prerecorded message or automatically connects to a waiting human telemarketer.

Thus, despite the giant strides in phone technology and caller identification, unwanted marketing calls are still a regular irritation of modern life. There are, however, a few, tricks that might help to seriously reduce those pesky calls and most of them just take a few seconds:

Register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry—This database created by the federal government in 2003 allows individuals to register their cell or landline phone numbers. About 30 days after you register, most telemarketers are legally not permitted to call those numbers. Register your numbers at www.donotcall.gov.

Block spam numbers after they call—Cell phones make it extremely easy to block individual phone numbers one at a time. After you receive a call from a telemarketer, robocaller or any other unwanted caller, just block that number forever with a few taps. On an iPhone, just go to your call log, tap the circled “i” next to the phone number, and scroll down to “Block this Caller.” On Samsung, select the phone number in your call log, tap “More” in the top right corner and then select “Add to reject list.” Most cell phone operating systems operate similarly, and you can manage your “blocked list” within your settings.

Download a robocall-blocking app—Apps like Nomorobo (for iPhone) or Trucaller (for Android) keep constantly updated databases of known robocaller phone numbers. When one of the numbers call your phone, the app will automatically decline the call for you. If a new number accidentally slips through, you can report the robocall in the app, and it will be added to the database so it stays up-to-date.

Just like that, decrease your phone call Russian Roulette and decide what you want to do with your own productive time.