It's not your imagination; you are getting more robocalls than you used to. According to the Better Business Bureau, nearly 2.4 billion robocalls are made a month to people around the world.
"If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it's a robocall. The Better Business Bureau and several other agencies have seen a significant increase in the number of illegal robocalls because internet-powered phone systems have made it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world, and to hide from law enforcement by displaying fake caller ID information," BBB's Rebecca Barr said.
The Federal Trade Commission has brought more than 100 lawsuits against 600 companies and individuals responsible for billions of illegal robocalls and other Do Not Call violations. The FTC is also leading several initiatives to develop technology-based solutions.
Barr says not all robocalls are illegal. Recorded messages regarding candidates running for office or charities asking for donations are allowed. Messages that are solely informational, for example a reminder from your doctor’s office, are also fine.
"A telemarketer must have your written consent, whether through paper or electronic means, to call you. Simply buying a product or contacting a business with a question, does not give them legal permission to call you. The new rules also require telemarketers to allow you to opt out of receiving additional telemarketing robocalls immediately," Barr explained.
So how can you stop these robocalls?
"We at BBB get asked this question daily. First, you can put your name on the Do Not Call Registry. The FTC maintains this database and marketers are legally compelled to avoid calling any phone numbers it contains. Second, you can find apps that your phone carrier offers that will help you. These apps can warn you of a potential fraud call and even block calls the program deems a spam call. Third, block the calls or use the do not disturb mode on your phone to help you minimize the calls," Barr said.
Barr adds that answering and engaging can increase the calls you get, so if the number does not look familiar, the best thing to do is not pick up and let them leave a message. For more resources visit www.bbb.org.