Spam calls 101: What they are and how to avoid them

Are you tired of being one of the victims of 2.9 billion spam calls US citizens receive every month? You are not the only one.

Spam calls are not only annoying and unwanted; they also present a major threat to your private information and your finances. We will show you how to identify them and how to deal with them.

What is a spam call?

Spam calls are a fraudulent activity that aims at stealing your money or your personal data. Some of these phone scams present the victim with something completely free (such as a free prize or telling them that they have won the lottery) or a “hot deal”. Others accuse you of an action you have not done, like missing out on jury duty or unpaid taxes or bills.

Another form of spam calls are so-called Robocalls. Here you don’t speak to an actual person but only to a machine. These unsolicited prerecorded calls usually are telemarketing calls and target landlines as well as mobile numbers via call or text.

How can I avoid or block these unwanted calls?

In order to protect you and your data you have different options to avoid these calls:

  • Identify scammers

    In order to get your personal information, the impostor will pretend to be a member of a charity group, a government representative or in some cases even someone calling in the name of a family member in need.
    Before answering or reacting to such a call, make sure to check the phone number online, with online-directories with a reverse phone lookup.

  • Don’t fall victim to Robocalls

    If, after answering the phone, you identify a recorded message, make sure not to follow any instructions given to you. Don’t answer questions or press numbers and immediately report the incident to the FTC.

  • ‘Do Not Call’ List

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that anyone who makes a phone solicitations to private homes has to provide their name, the entity or person on whose behalf they are calling and number and address under which they can be contacted. They also ruled that anyone who registered on the national Do Not Call list may no longer be called.

    In order to register you can visit or call 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY). It is important that you call from the number you like to register.
    Once you registered, telemarketers have 31 days to remove you from their call list. Your number remains on the list until you remove it.

  • Block Robocalls
    Another way to deal with Robocalls is to block them. For that you can
    – Download call blocking apps
    – Check with your cell phone provider to see if there already are blocking features that come with your device
    – Find Video tutorials for your specific operating system online