I’m getting weird phone calls on my smartphone, and it really bothers me. I don’t recognize the phone number -- or numbers, actually, because several of them are calling me -- and sometimes I get weird messages left in my voicemail in robotic-sounding voices. I’d like to get these weird calls to stop, but I don’t really know what I can do about it. Experts, do you have any advice?
Our smartphones are essential modern conveniences, and more of us have them than ever. But getting strange and unwanted calls is not what smartphones are supposed to be for, and we don’t blame you for wanting to keep your privacy and stop being bothered by weird robo-calls.
In most cases, unwanted phone calls are going to come from people who want your money. These include legitimate and semi-legitimate businesses, but also plenty of scam callers, many of whom will attempt to impersonate tax collectors, loan collectors, banks, and even the authorities. Automated calls aren’t just annoying -- they can be dangerous, too, and prey on vulnerable and credulous folks.
If you’re getting unwanted calls from telemarketers, you can fight back by reporting the numbers that are calling you to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC, a government body, is tasked with regulating many types of businesses. When it comes to telemarketers, the FTC -- and its “no-call” list -- are on your side. It’s not a perfectly effective solution, but it can help in many cases.
Of course, it’s not just scam artists and telemarketers who could be leaving you weird messages. You might want to try a reverse lookup to see who, exactly, is calling you and whether or not you might need to take this up with the authorities.
There are also ways to block specific phone numbers on your phone or through your mobile carrier. If you’re dealing repeatedly with the same numbers calling, try blocking them!
Remember, if you do pick up the phone for one of these calls or get a weird voicemail message, be careful! Never give away personal information to people who cannot prove they are with the organizations they say they are. The IRS will never ask you for personal information over the phone, and banks usually follow similar safety rules. Just as you would not email your social security number, bank number, or other personal and financial information, avoid sharing it over the phone!
In the future, you can try to avoid drawing the attention of robo-callers by keeping your phone number as private as possible. It’s tough to keep our phone numbers off the record these days, but you should at least take basic steps like avoiding putting your phone number online and being careful about which websites you entrust your phone number to. Familiarize yourself with the ways that telemarketers (and worse) get your phone number, and fight back!
Finally, remember that, while an annoyance, these calls don’t have to be dangerous. As long as you avoid sharing personal and financial information, you don’t have anything to fear from the creepy con-men with the robotic voices. Block their numbers, report them, put your number on the no-call list, and try not to worry!