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How to avoid calls from scammers

Company projects nearly 50% of cellphone calls will be from scammers by 2019

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you feel like you are getting more and more robocalls or calls from scammers claiming to be the Internal Revenue Service or your bank, you aren't alone. 

According to the Federal Communications Commission, these unwanted calls are a top consumer complaint. Next year, it's expected to get worse. 

Nearly half of cellphone calls will be from scammer by next year. That's a dramatic increase from 29 percent of calls this year. The forecast comes from First Orion, a company that specializes in blocking unwanted calls.

First Orion, which provides caller ID and call blocking technology to cellphone carriers, projects the number of incoming spam calls to increase nearly 16 percent next year. 

To stop these calls, the FCC offers the following tips: 

  • Don't answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
  • You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be aware: Caller ID showing a "local" number does not necessarily mean it is a local caller.
  • If you answer the phone and the caller - or a recording - asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with "Yes."
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company's or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
  • Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
  • If you have a voicemail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voicemail if you do not set a password.
  • Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools they may have and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device to block unwanted calls.
  • If you use robocall-blocking technology already, it often helps to let that company know which numbers are producing unwanted calls so they can help block those calls for you and others.
  • To block telemarketing calls, register your number on the Do Not Call List. Legitimate telemarketers consult the list to avoid calling both landline and wireless phone numbers on the list.

You can also file a complaint with the FCC if you believe you have received an illegal call or text.