Your Money MattersConsumer Reports


Consumer Reports: Can congress stop robocalls?

Posted at 7:34 AM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 10:39:03-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - When it comes to robocalls, it’s unanimous - they are aggravating. But robocalls aren’t just annoying, they’re also costing people billions of dollars.

Take Jeri Vargas, she’s a caretaker for her mother who has Alzheimer's disease. Jeri says her mom has been scammed numerous times from unwanted calls.

“If I count the products that came for home repairs and services that were not legitimate it would probably run into the hundreds or thousands," says Vargas.

And Jeri’s story happens all too often. In the last 12 months, consumers lost an estimated $10.5 billion to phone scams.

“Robocalls have become the scourge for consumers," says Senator Richard Blumenthal. They are the consumer plague of our time.”

“The number now is 47.8 billion calls a year," says Representative Jackie Speier.

The discussion on Capitol Hill focused on legislation that would beef up existing laws, and ensure that phone companies implement technologies to reduce “spoofed” calls -- where scammers mask their identity with fake numbers that might look familiar or local.

“The protections that are currently in place haven’t done enough to stop robocalls that are incessantly hounding consumers, so the proposals in Congress would require telephone phone companies to implement better technologies that would stop spoofed calls -- this would be a major win for consumers," says Consumer Reports Advocacy Expert, Kara Kelber.

As for how you can protect yourself now? CR says you can try using your phone carrier’s anti-robocall service. Also available are third-party robocall-blocking apps. CR says Nomorobo, Hiya, and YouMail all offer call-protection options.

To find out what your phone carrier offers, sign in to its website and look for links referring to call security or call blocking.