Protect yourself: The best ways to stop unwanted robocalls

Consumers have a variety of options to fight robocallers, but none are 100% reliable, a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds.
Ethan Garr and his colleagues at RoboKiller believe technology can eventually bring customers some relief. Garr says the RoboKiller app, which he says is over 90% reliable, “uses audio fingerprinting to determine the difference between a real person and a robot, and between a wanted robocall and an unwanted call.”
The proliferation of robocall blocking apps speaks to how much the calls frustrate consumer. Top-selling apps also include NomoRobo, TruCaller and Hiya, and typically range from free to a few dollars a month.
Most phone carriers are now even offering robocall blockers of their own. “I think for the average customer, it does make a difference,” Verizon spokesman David Weissmann says.
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Aside from maintaining a “blacklist” of known spam numbers, robo-blockers all work a little differently. TruCaller and Hiya can either warn customers of “possible spoofing” or block those calls. NomoRobo, a pioneer, answers calls before you do; if it detects an unwanted robocall, it blocks it. RoboKiller even provides customers with their own robot, programmed to lure human telemarketers onto a call and waste their time. One “answer bot” managed to keep a confused telemarketer on the line for well over five minutes, by simply saying things like “hold on, can you give me two seconds."
Garr insists the answer-bots offer more than entertainment. He says wasting telemarketers’ time costs robocallers money, so “what you’re doing is reaching into their pocket.”
If you’d prefer more extreme measures, some attorneys will sue telemarketers for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. But attorney Amy Ginsburg, who has had success doing that, says lawsuits work best with companies like collections agencies, that may continue to call after being told to stop. Ginsburg says overseas scammers are harder to sue because “even locating those companies is a challenge.”
In the end, some advocates say the most reliable way to fight robocalls is also the most frustrating for consumers: ignore calls from anyone not in your contacts. And if a robocall gets through, just hang up.