New laws help protect you from robocalls

NO DATELINE (WKBT) — The coronavirus pandemic has given phone scammers yet another opportunity to use robocalls to prey on consumers.

“We all get them,” says Consumer Reports technology reporter Octavio Blanco. “They’re really annoying. And they can even be dangerous.”

But some new laws have been enacted to help put a stop to all those annoying calls. Plus, Consumer Reports says there are some simple things you can do, too.

While it might not seem like it, Consumer Reports says robocalls are on the decline; 4-point-1 billion were placed in October 2021. But a recent deadline imposed by the Traced Act requires carriers to certify that they’re using something called Shaken/Stir technology.

Nearly 7,000 carriers have complied so far.

“Shaken/Stir is designed to help identify spoofed calls that use a fake number to trick you into answering your phone,” says Blanco. Those calls are labeled a risk or blocked altogether. The service is free, and there’s nothing you need to do to take advantage of it. But there are even more steps you can take to get as few robocalls as possible.

Whitelisting allows calls only from people on your contact list. You can search online for directions to install the tool on your Apple or Android phone. The downside is that you risk missing calls from, say, a doctor’s office or a delivery person whose number isn’t stored in your phone.

There are also third-party call-blocking apps that can help. Some of them charge a fee, while others offer a free subscription or a free trial. CR says if you sign up for a free trial offer, just make sure to cancel before it’s over if you don’t want to be charged a monthly fee.

Depending on your phone and carrier, Consumer Reports says you may have to manually activate your phone’s call-blocking services.

Here’s a link to step-by-step directions to activate call-blocking on your phone.