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Connecticut BBB gives tips to block robocalls

HARTFORD — Connecticut Better Business Bureau says consumers can help reduce the number of unwanted, annoying and illegal scam telephone calls, as part of a new Federal Trade Commission program.

The FTC initiative involves providing telecommunications companies and other industry partners with known robocallers’ telephone numbers every day, to bolster efforts to reduce and prevent the computer-dialed calls.

The FTC collects scammers’ telephone numbers from consumer complaints to the Do Not Call Registry, either online or by telephone. The more consumers report the numbers, the faster it can develop its blacklist database.

More consumers file complaints with the FTC about robocalls than any other single issue. In the first five months of 2017, the FTC says it received 1.9 million complaints.

“There are few issues that anger consumers as much as these unwanted calls,” said Connecticut BBB spokesman Howard Schwartz. “Robocalls are more than irritating. They are also at the heart of a huge percentage of attempts to deceive consumers into disclosing personal and financial information.”

At the moment, blacklisting robocall telephone numbers is the most effective method of blocking them, as researchers continue their work on new technology to stop them.

Connecticut BBB offers some tips to help you reduce the frequency of unwanted calls:

Get onto the Do Not Call Registry – You can help populate the FTC robocall initiative database by calling 888-382-1222, or registering online at donotcall.gov. You will receive fewer marketing calls and make it easier to identify the fraudulent ones.

Don’t press any digits on your keypad – Ignore recorded prompts to press digits on your telephone keypad to be taken off their calling list. If you press any keys, it tells the scammers you have an active number, that you are amenable to picking up calls from unknown numbers and willing to following a call to action.

Your number will then be sold to other telemarketers and the frequency of calls will increase.

Beware of corporate ID fraud – Callers may use the name of a legitimate company to lend credibility to their pitches. Hang up, and if it differs from the number of the legitimate company, report the number to the Do Not Call Registry.

Watch out for “bait and switch” – Some callers will ask something such as “Is Jane there?” When you tell them they have the wrong number, they change the subject and may ask a question such as “While you’re on the phone, have you thought about installing new carpets in your home?”

Don’t pick up the phone – If you don’t know the incoming number, let it ring. If the call goes to voicemail you may be able to discern what sort of a call it is.

Law enforcement, technical experts, regulators and industry have been working diligently to stop the illegal marketing calls, and have had success in tracking down and closing robocall and live marketing call operations. In the meantime, you can help stop the calls by simply reporting them to the Do Not Call Registry.