The formation of the Do Not Call registry has gone a long way toward stopping unwanted marketing messages, but even the best registry can only do so much.

How to stop robocallsAs traditional marketing calls have declined, so-called robocalls have exploded.

These automated messages have largely replaced telemarketing calls and many of them are actually scams posing as legitimate opportunities.

As Mother’s Day approaches, there has never been a better time to address this issue with your loved ones so they know what to watch out for.

Elderly people in particular are at increased risk of fraudulent rob call scams, so reducing the number of calls they receive is a step in the right direction.

Here are 5 simple ways to reduce the threat (and annoyance) of robocalls.

Tip #1 – Make Sure You (and Your Mom) Are on the Do Not Call Registry

While it may not help you prevent robocalls completely, adding your phone number to the Do Not Call registry is certainly a good start. Check your home phone number, your parents’ phone number, and your own cell number for inclusion, adding them if necessary.

Tip #2 – Block Unknown Callers on Your Home and Cell Phone

Robocallers routinely try to hide their identities and therefore, they often come through as unknown numbers. Blocking calls from unknown numbers is one way to reduce the number of calls from repeat robocall offenders. If you do receive a robocall from an unblocked number, be sure to note the phone number, block it manually on your phone and if they are especially persistent, report it to your phone company.

Tip #3 – Seek Out Robocall-Blocking Apps

On your smartphone, look for apps designed to block unwanted marketing messages and robocalls. There are many apps designed for this purpose, and plenty are free. Check out this review to find an app that works for you. You might need to test out a few different apps before you find one that works best for you.

Tip #4 – Use Your Voicemail

Robocalls aren’t picky about the numbers they target. Whether they’re calling your landline phone at home, your office phone at work or the smartphone in your pocket, if you don’t recognize a number, let it go to voicemail. If the message is important, the caller will leave a message.

Tip #5 – Threaten to Report Repeat Offenders

While the laws surrounding robocalls are still somewhat murky, there are some basic protections in place. Companies and individuals who persist in making robocalls, even when told to stop, are likely breaking the law.

Let them know you are onto their scam. Capture as much information as you can from each robocall, including the originating number and the company involved. Then report them to the local authorities and your telephone provider. No matter what, do not give out any personal information about yourself in any way.

Bonus Tip: Robocalls are rampant, and so are the scams they perpetrate. Watch out for the following scenarios, each initiated by a robocall.

  • Calls from your own number: Caller ID is the bane of the robocallers’ existence, but clever scam artists have found a way around it. Beware of calls that seem to come from your own number; they could be robocalls in disguise.
  • Athletic wear scams: The Hartford Chamber of Commerce recently posted on their Facebook page about a robocall that targeted the good nature of sports fans. This robocall has been soliciting Hartford-area businesses, asking them to become t-shirt sponsors at local sporting events. If you receive such a solicitation – just hang up.

Robocalls are everywhere, and chances are, they’re not going away any time soon. While politicians are looking for a way around the problem, scam artists are busy creating new ways to separate honest citizens from their money.

So this Mother’s Day, take a few moments to warn your mother, grandmother, and any other loved ones about the threat of robocalls and how to avoid them.