Getting More Robocalls Than Usual? These Apps Can Help

CHICAGO — If you think you are receiving more robocalls than ever, you’re correct. 30.5 billion robocalls were placed nationwide in 2017, according to WBBM.

“When you answer, no one is there,” noted Kristie Campochiaro. “You’re saying hello three and four times, until somebody comes on the line.”

In theory, the solution is the National Do Not Call Registry. More than 200 million numbers are on it.

However, that doesn’t quite work anymore.

“There is very little enforcement,” said Robert Sloan, who heads the University of Illinois at Chicago’s computer science department.

Sloan says robocallers have outwitted the government.

“Today, these are all illegitimate criminals, in many cases out of the country. They’re not obeying laws anyway,” he said.

Chicago is one of the hardest hit areas in the country. 13 million robocalls were placed to Chicago’s 312 area code in December alone, according to the creator of YouMail, a visual voicemail and robocall blocking software.

“We play an out-of-service message — that doo doo doo, this number is out of service — to anybody we recognize as a bad guy,” said YouMail CEO, Alex Quilici. “And what that does is it takes you off their list and they stop calling you.”

Other robocall blocking apps include:

Some are free, but upgrades will cost you.

“They have a crowd sourcing solution. If five people vote this as a likely scam call, it’ll show up on app as a likely scam call. That allows you to then go into your phone system and just block it,” said Justin Poggioli a Contact Center consultant.

The toughest thing for these apps to combat is called the “neighbor scam.” Computer software mimics the first six digits of your phone number, making you think it’s a local call from a friend.

“Keep your phone number unpublished,” Poggioli recommends. “Don’t use it for selling things on Craigslist, don’t use it for resumes and applying to jobs. Use a temporary phone number.”

You can get a free second number on apps such as:

Still, as much as you take matters into your own hands, experts point to phone companies to rule out the robocallers.

“It’s the Verizons and T-Mobiles who have some ability now, and could demand that we develop systems to identify and authenticate called numbers. We don’t have that today,” Sloan said.

If you receive a call with a recorded message, report that number to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) then block it from your phone.