It seems the whole National Do Not Call Registry isn’t always effective. Legit marketers have a lot of loopholes; charities, pollsters, political fundraisers and others are exempt; and then there are those shady marketers who simply don’t care.

I know, you’re shocked, shocked.

Lately, my cell phone has been ringing off the hook with actual numbers that don’t come up on caller ID as unknown and don’t start with 800 or 866 so they seem legit enough to answer. Only if I do, I get a recorded message “from customer service” or “from your credit card company” or “about the winning entry” I have in some sweepstakes I never entered.

Tip: If the caller mentions a brand you’ve never heard of or none at all, hang up.

So now I’ve stopped answering calls from numbers I don’t recognize, and instead plug them into 800notes.com first. While there are plenty of apps you can download, and other more complex way to stave off these calls, I find this website is a quick easy fix.

It also doesn’t try charge you “a small fee” to give you info on the caller, like a lot of the reverse phone lookup sites.  It’s totally crowdsourced info and it’s good.

1800notes is a simple way to look up and report incoming calls you don't recognize

800notes is a comprehensive, if not quite aesthetically pleasing  site that’s actually quite effective. Type in the number calling you, and you’ll find out from other users that 646-668-6744 (which just robocalled me today) is indeed some sort of free cruise scam asking for your credit card number.

Not only that, but I learned from the number of comments on that thread this morning alone, clearly these scammers are having a very busy day. In fact the number of users reporting scam numbers on the site is in part what makes it such a good resource.

It’s also a great site to share with parents or grandparents who may be less tech savvy than you, and more susceptible to the practices of shady marketers.

So how do you block those numbers so they can’t call again?

It’s a good thing to know considering asking less than legit people to “remove you from the list” may not work — one commenter said this number calls them every day, and another wrote I kindly told them to put me in the do not call list and the man got nasty and said he can call me anytime he wants to!

 

How to block + report unwanted callers | Cool Mom Tech

 

On an iPhone:
Fortunately they make it easy.

1. Go to recent calls

2. Click the i that stands for information, to the right of the number

3. Scroll down to block contact. Done. I like that it works for texts too.

 

On Android Phones:
Unfortunately this is more complicated on a lot of Android models. Both Techlicious and Digital Trends offer great tips for blocking numbers on all kinds of Android phones, including suggesting Android apps you can install that auto-block known scam callers. But that’s a lot of work.

I think the easiest first step is to try using Auto Reject List.

1. Go into Settings

2. Under the Call menu click Call Rejection

3. Select Auto Reject List, and you can manually insert the phone number into the list.

 

Of course I’m talking about the little annoyances here when it comes to unwanted calls. If things ever uglier in terms of harassment, threats, or non-stop unwanted calls, you want to report the number immediately to your phone company — some services will block a certain number for free, while some charge a small fee.

You can also file a consumer complaint with the FCC. If a company is reporting to be a government agency like this scammer, you can file a complaint with the DoJ.  Or you can always report the situation with local police.

Just be careful in general about incoming calls that you don’t recognize which ask for things like your social security number, birthday, address, or credit card number confirmation. In fact, in an example of extreme irony, the National Do Not Call Registry has this note on their front page:

Scammers have been making phone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry. The calls claim to provide an opportunity to sign up for the Registry. These calls are not coming from the Registry or the Federal Trade Commission, and you should not respond to these calls.

Out of control.

Top Photo: Pai Shih via compfight cc

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