Phone scams on the rise: Tips to help stop robocalls

FTC received over 5 million robocall complaints in 2021

The Federal Trade Commission received more than 5 million complaints about robocalls in 2021 -- here are some ways for you to stop receiving robocalls.

Robocalls seem to have been growing in frequency around the U.S., and they are annoying and many can be traced back to elaborate scams.

If your phone rings and you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer it --it’s likely a robocall. In fact, even just answering the call could load you into a database for other scammers to target your number, because they know the number works and is tied to a real person who may answer again.

And the numbers are staggering: In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 5 million complaints about robocalls, and an additional 2.8 million Americans added their number to the national do not call registry. Last year, about 18,000 complaints were about robocalls that were tied to COVID scams.

So, how can you stop these calls from inundating your phone?

You can add your phone number to the FTC website. Make sure your phone number and every number on your family plan are added to the do not call list.

Click here to join the Do Not Call Registry.

Do not answer any calls from unknown phone numbers.

And do not click on or open any links that are sent to you in text messages. Often times, if the scammer can’t get you to answer the phone, they will send text messages hoping to get your attention that way.

The Better Business Bureau knows that it is hard for many of us to ignore these calls and texts, but they say it’s necessary.

“Make sure that you’re being very cautious anytime you’re receiving a text message, or an email, as well, that you don’t click on any of the links within those messages,” said Laura Blankenship with the BBB.

If you receive numerous calls from the same phone number, keep track of them: People are urged to log those numbers and report them to the FTC or the BBB, and then contact your phone provider and see what services and blocking options are available. Most options are free, and will at least help reduce the number of unwanted calls you may receive.

Related: Scams were on the rise in 2021: Here’s what to know


About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.