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Tips to Reduce Illegal Robocalls

By now, many of us have learned to glance at our phones before picking up to see whether we recognize the caller or whether it might be spam or a scam.

And in case we forget to glance, recent federal legislation is now in effect to help stop illegal robocalls. The federal action requires phone providers to block calls from companies that fail to report what they're doing to fight robocalls to the Federal Communications Commission. While scam robocalls have already declined by 37 percent since June, regulators need to move up the deadline for smaller companies who have an extension to upgrade their technology.

In addition to being annoying, illegal robocalls cost Americans $3 billion annually in wasted time and another $10 billion annually in fraud. Illegal robocallers will pretty much do anything to get you to pick up or return the call. However, robocall scammers can't scam if they don't talk to you.

Here are 10 tips to reduce robocalls and protect yourself from scams:

  • Register your phone number to block unwanted calls via the federal Do Not Call list at or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
  • Don't be fooled by what the caller ID says. Scammers can still spoof numbers to look like it's a local call or coming from a known business.
  • If you do pick up the phone and realize it's an illegal robocall, hang up. Pressing any button confirms a live person was reached and you are likely to receive more robocalls.
  • Don't be tricked if a caller knows your name, address, family members' names or your Social Security number. Half of the U.S. adult population had personal information exposed in the Equifax data breach.
  • Never confirm or provide personal information – not even your name -- to any caller you weren't expecting. If you think the call could be legitimate, call the company back at a number you independently look up.
  • Don't provide your full name on your outbound voicemail message. Avoid giving a scammer more information than they may already have.
  • Call someone you know and trust before you act if you get a call that you're supposedly a victim of fraud, behind on taxes, or your grandchild is in jail.
  • Don't pay bills with gift cards. No legitimate operation accepts gift cards to pay for a financial obligation.
  • Report illegal robocalls at or by calling the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP.
  • Check out more tips from the Arizona PIRG Education Fund.

Robocalls will decline significantly when more phone companies block illegal calls and more consumers don't answer calls identified as unverified or potential spam. Learn more by reading the Arizona PIRG Education Fund's recent report Make The Ringing Stop: The FCC Is Finally Fighting Back Against Robocalls.

Teresa Murray is the Consumer Watchdog for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund conducts research and education on issues in the public interest. More information can be found at
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