New technology in works to combat robocalls

In the meantime, consumers can take simple steps to reduce unwanted calls

By Marilyn Moritz - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Robocalls are ringing up exasperation at an increasing rate. 

Now there is sweeping new technology in the works that could help hang up on the unwanted automated calls for good. 

Consumers in August received more than 4.2 billion robocalls, which are not only annoying, but in many cases are coming from scammers trying to trick consumers out of money. 

"They usually offer some sort of product and ask consumers to either wire money from a bank account into their account or go to a store, pick up a preloaded credit card and send them money that way," said Octavio Blanco, of Consumer Reports.

A lot of the robocalls come from the same area code as your phone, so you might assume it's a friend or someone you know and answer it. But it's a common tactic called "spoofing," when robocallers disguise their number to look like one that comes from your local area.

There's a new technology with a James Bond-sounding name that could help called STIR/SHAKEN. 

"Shaken and stirred technology is promising, something that's being developed by the phone providers as a way to sift out spoofed calls," Blanco said.

Phone service providers, the Federal Communications Commission and other tech engineers are developing a significant authentication update to caller ID, but it could be several months before consumers see the benefits of the new technology.

In the meantime, here's what you can do:

  • List your phone number with the national Do Not Call Registry. 
  • Ask your phone company whether it offers an advanced robocall-blocking service.
  • Consider a call-blocking app, like Nomorobo, Hiya or PrivacyStar, which offer call-protection options.  

Another way consumers can fight back is to report robocalls to the Federal Trade Commission. Just write down the number and enter it on the FTC's Do Not Call list.

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