Avoiding Unlawful Robocalls

For the most part, robocalls are an annoyance. They may be irritating and disruptive, but when all is said and done, they are relatively harmless… right? Well, not always. Robocallers are often after private data or financial information you don’t want falling into the wrong hands.

Read on for some simple tips to help you steer clear of scammers, avoid robocalls, and protect your data and privacy.

Shaken and Stirred

On June 30th, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, implemented a protocol called ‘STIR/SHAKEN.’ No, that’s not how Bond takes his martini. It actually stands for Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using Tokens (SHAKEN). 

What all this tech jargon means is that it will be harder for robocallers to spoof a caller ID illegally. In other words, the FCC is making it harder for spammers to trick victims into answering the phone by having a different phone number (often from a trusted source) appear on your caller ID.

In short, the STIR/SHAKEN policy is a way to authenticate and verify caller IDs via IP networks. It’s meant to stop robocallers from using fake identities and thereby limit the number of robocalls you receive. If the number isn’t verified, the call simply won’t come through.

While the policy is effective to a degree, it’s not a perfect system. If you’re still getting annoying robocalls, here’s how to avoid them.

Our Top Tips

Here are some easy, FCC-approved steps you can take to avoid robocalls:

  • Don’t answer calls from numbers that are ‘blocked,’ ‘unknown,’ or have ‘no caller ID.’
  • Don’t answer calls from numbers you’re unfamiliar with.
  • If a call appears to be coming from a local area code, that doesn’t mean it is. If you answer an unknown call, even from a local area code, proceed with caution.
  • Don’t respond to questions that can be answered with a simple ‘yes.’
  • If someone claiming to be with a specific company calls you, hang up, find the company’s official number online, and call them yourself.
  • If you answer a call and a voice on the other line says, “Can you hear me?” or “Are you there?” etc., just hang up.
  • If you answer a call and are asked to press a number to speak to a representative, just hang up.

If you engage with robocalls, such as answering a voice prompt or pressing a number, it indicates to spammers that your number is accurate, and therefore could be a prime target for future scams.

For the more technologically inclined, there are also screening and blocking options available from certain tech manufacturers, including Google and Apple, as well as several third-party apps you can download on your smartphone. Some phone service providers also offer free or premium tools to manage scam callers.

For an added layer of protection, you can register on the government’s Do Not Call Registry. Admittedly, this won’t stop most scammers, who aren’t exactly known for their polite observance of caller’s wishes. It will, however, make it illegal for telemarketers and robocallers to contact you and easier for you to report violators. 

Remember that scam protection is about more than just the occasional irritating phone call; it’s about protecting yourself and your loved ones from privacy violations. With the proper knowledge and the right tools, you can safeguard your data against scammers of all kinds.

At S&T, we want to keep you connected and secure. If you have any questions, contact us at any time. We’re here for you.