Robocalls Are Annoying AF. Here Are 4 Secret Ways to Stop Them Forever

52,492 Views
Close up portrait of a young woman talking on mobile phone
m-imagephotography/Getty Images

A few months ago, I was getting so many robocalls that I just stopped answering my cell phone if I didn’t recognize the phone number.

At the height, I was hitting decline on at least three to five calls. Every. Single. Day. It was bad.

About six weeks ago, I got fed up and added my information to the National Do Not Call Registry. That worked wonders, but a few calls still slipped through a couple times a week.

Thankfully, The New York Times has a few ideas to cut back on the calls even more. Some of them are practical, and others are wonderfully vindictive. Here’s what you can do.

Don’t Answer the Phone

This was my first step. I held out doing just this for nearly three months.

In the off chance I did answer a robocall, most of the recordings gave me the option to press “2” to opt out of future calls.

I pressed “2” over and over, but the calls kept coming.

I had no idea I was making a huge mistake. According to the Times, robocallers are not above tricking you. Opting out does nothing to stop the calls. Instead, it lets the system know it hit a working phone number.

The more your press “2,” the more calls you’ll get in the future. You’re better off not answering the phone at all.

You’ll also want to remember not to fall victim to the “yes” scam. That’s when a scammer starts the call asking if you can hear them. If you respond “yes,” the call goes dead.

Scammers can record your voice and use it later to authorize purchases. Instead, either hang up immediately or, if you think the question might be legitimate, answer with “I can hear you.”

Sign Up With the National Do Not Call Registry

This drastically cut back on the number of calls I received. It’s easy to sign up, but do it as soon as possible because it can take up to 31 days to update the system and for the calls to slow down.

After that 31-day window, report any additional calls to the FTC. That’s the agency responsible for cracking down on this annoying and illegal behavior. If you don’t report them, the FTC won’t know which companies are breaking the rules.

Block the Calls

You can do this manually, but there are also apps for that.

Truecaller, which is available on all devices, works like a caller ID system and shows you the real identity of the person calling, even if they are not saved to your contacts. It also has a list of most common spam callers in your area and warns you of a potential robocall before you answer.

Other apps like RoboKiller and Nomorobo promise to automatically identify and block spam calls for you while letting useful robocalls, like school closure notices and doctor’s office reminders, make it to you. These apps charge monthly fees between $1.99 and $2.99, and are only available on the iPhone.

For Kicks, You Can Also Waste Their Time

This is not free — it costs $6 for a one-year subscription — and it likely won’t stop the robocalls, but it will give you the sweet taste of vengeance.

The New York Times suggests using the a service called Jolly Roger Telephone Company, which talks to telemarketers so you don’t have to waste your time.

It uses a recording to simulate a real conversation with background noise, children interrupting and a strategically placed “uh-huh” and “OK” just often enough to keep the telemarketer on the line and give them a taste of their own medicine.

All you have to do is connect the call with your Jolly Roger robot once you realize you accidentally answered a robocall. Jolly Roger will send you an email of the recording afterward so you can have a laugh.

Again, this probably won’t stop the calls, but I imagine it will bring you a deep, deep level of personal satisfaction.

Desiree Stennett (@desi_stennett) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

Did this article help put money in your pocket?