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How to Stop ‘Robocalls’? Be an Activist!

Are the ‘robocalls‘ getting to you, too? Have you just about had it with the Health Insurance scams, the IRS scams, the Chinese Consulate scam, and the Vacation Club scams? The New York Post reported: “Transaction Network Services estimate that one-third of all calls placed in the first half of 2018 were robocalls.”

Robocalls are generated by software and automated computer programs sensitive enough to know if the caller has answered, and then directs the caller to a live person. The recorded message entices the recipient to say on the line. They even can leave a voicemail that litters your voicemail inbox. Seniors and vulnerable people are a big target for robocalls.

On October 8, 2018 Attorney Generals from many states – 35 of them – lead by North Carolina’s AG, Josh Stein, signed A Joint, bipartisan Letter to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) asking to “Target and Eliminate Unlawful RoboCalls.”

I was receiving more than 9 calls a day for a three-week period. This computer-generated voice called me to market health insurance. It disrupted my day, my work, and my writing. I was mad.

Two weeks ago I actually wrote to Joshua Stein, NC’s Attorney General. He wrote me back! He asked me to send him the numbers from the Albemarle, NC exchange that were Robocalls to my iPhone. Evidently I am not the first to complain. Josh Stein is an acknowledged privacy advocate. I am glad to see that consumer advocates exist in our government. (See my letter to Mr. Stein below).

I also wrote the City Manager of Albemarle, NC. Michael Ferris assigned his Captain and Detective, Albemarle Police, to contact me to get the long list of the annoying calls from their exchange. The pretty town of Albemarle would not want that kind of publicity The Police Captain did contact me and was concerned about my calls, noted the list, and wanted to know what measures I had personally taken.

I also assured both the NC Attorney General and the Police Captain that I was doing all I could to block these callers. I’ve detailed below the steps I used to finally eliminate those particular unwanted calls. It is an ongoing process, however, as I’m adding new numbers each week.

In November 2018, the FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, ordered the Telecom Industry to come up with a solution to the growing number of robocalls made to consumers and businesses. The FCC believes that the telecom industry needs to create a new generation of call authentication software and systems. In September 2018 the FCC filed a $82M lawsuit against telemarketer Mr. Philip Roesel and his companies for more than $82 million for illegal caller ID spoofing. Mr. Roesel’s firm made more than 21 million robocalls to market health insurance.

How to Block Unwanted Robocalls

1. Register your number with the Do Not Call Registry.

2. Block every spam call that comes to your phone in “Settings”.

3. Block the calls with your carrier’s app.

4. Consider adding apps specifically for killing robocalls from your App Store.

The most effective call-blocking apps for me were RoboKiller, Donut Call, and WideProtect. Donut and WideProtect allow you to insert for detection only the area code and exchange without the last 4 numbers needed. This was really effective for me as the calls I was getting just had only a change in the last four digits.

The downside: putting in an exchange and area code may prevent you from receiving the legitimate calls from business associates and friends.

Results?

I was extremely happy with the responses I received from Joshua Stein, North Carolina’s Attorney General; Michael Ferris, City Manager, Albemarle, NC; and Captain Dulin, Albemarle Police. Be an activist, too. Write to your state Attorney General and  the local city from which the RoboCalls come.

I hope the States’ Attorneys General, all the telecom firms, and the FCC are successful in creating software to block these unwanted calls for everyone. I hope they are successful in suing the call perpetrators so that we can all live more peaceful and private lives.

Be An Activist to Stop Robocalls!

My letter to Joshua Stein, Attorney General of North Carolina:

Hi Josh, I appreciate the time you are taking to read this. I notice that you had signed the FCC Memorandum on Robocalls. https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/refresh-robocall-record-reply-comment-of-35-state-ags.pdf Thank you.

I thought you should be aware that I am getting constant calls from Albemarle, NC – up to 9 a day from an insurance scammer. I called the City Manager of Albemarle and sent them the list of numbers. This is terrible PR for such a cute town! Now every time that exchange and their town come up, I am furious. I have an appreciation for responsibility and marketing in my businesses. So, I’m going to the top in reporting these [unwanted calls]. Understand that I have already gone the route of DO NOT Call Registry, Complaints to FCC and [utilizing] Call protection software from AT&T, and reporting/blocking calls to AT&T.

Here is the list of calls I received on my cell phone from the last 3 days alone. 704-550-2916, 704-550-2865, 704-550-2866, 704-550-2839, 704-550-2788, 704-550-2809, 704-550-2788, 704-550-2747, 704-550-2719, 704-550-2718, 704-550-2623, 704-550-2619, 704-550-2603.

I live in Texas but love your state. I hope this helps your case.

Best regards, Tricia

 

Here was Joshua Stein, North Carolina’s Attorney General’s response the next day:

Thanks, Tricia, Please email me at: [email protected]

 

My email to the city manager/Assistant, Albemarle, NC:

Sirs, I hope that you and your City Manager can get these calls stopped. It’s not great PR for the pretty town of Albemarle! Every time I see the Albemarle exchange come up, it makes me furious. Please let me know if you received my email.

FYI, I am a travel writer.

Here is a list of the numbers (selling health insurance with a recorded voice) all from an Albemarle extension I got in just the last 3 days:

704-550-2916, 704-550-2865, 704-550-2866, 704-550-2839, 704-550-2788, 704-550-2809, 704-550-2788, 704-550-2747, 704-550-2719, 704-550-2718, 704-550-2623, 704-550-2619, 704-550-2603.

Best regards, Tricia

 

Response from the City Manager, Albemarle, NC:

He assigned Captain Detective David E. Dulin, Albemarle Police Department to reach out to me.

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