Scammers have your number! Here’s how to defend yourself from robocalls

The coronavirus pandemic has given phone scammers yet another opportunity to use robocalls to prey on consumers. Some new laws have been enacted to help put a stop to them, but if your phone is still ringing, Consumer Reports says there are simple things you can do yourself.

While it might not seem like it, Consumer Reports says robocalls are on the decline; 4.1 billion were placed in October 2021. But a recent deadline imposed by the Traced Act requires carriers to certify that they’re using something called Shaken/Stir technology. Nearly 7,000 carriers have complied so far.

“STIR/SHAKEN is designed to help identify spoofed calls that use a fake number to trick you into answering your phone,” explained Consumer Reports Editor Octavio Blanco.

Those calls are labeled as a risk or blocked altogether. The service is free and there’s nothing consumers need to do to take advantage of it.

“But there are even more steps you can take to get as few robocalls as possible,” Blanco said.

Whitelisting allows calls only from people on your contact list. The downside is that you risk missing calls from, say, a doctor’s office or a delivery person whose number isn’t stored in your phone.

There are also third-party call-blocking apps that can help. Some of them charge a fee, while others offer a free subscription or a free trial. Consumer Reports says if you sign up for a free trial offer, just make sure to cancel before it’s over if you don’t want to be charged a monthly fee.

Depending on your phone and carrier, Consumer Reports says you might have to manually activate your phone’s call-blocking services. Consumer Reports takes you step-by-step here.