Registry, apps, call-blocking service help limit robocalls

FCC gets nearly 300,000 complaints about unwanted calls each month

SAN ANTONIO – A Texas woman's legal victory over persistent and annoying robocalls has brought renewed attention to the nuisance. Short of suing, there are some ways to try to fight the battle, including apps, devices and a call-blocking service.

The Federal Trade Commission gets as many as 300,000 complaints each month about unwanted marketing calls.

Each week, Karina Cuevas gets several robocalls -- auto-dialed phone calls from marketers.

"It's annoying," she said. "I want to slam the phone, and I just want to talk to someone and tell them to please stop calling me. But it's a machine."

What can you do about it? Putting your name on the government's Do Not Call registry at donotcall.gov it a first step. It's not entirely effective, however, because some marketers ignore it.

If you get your home phone service from an Internet provider, you may be able to sign up for a free call-blocking service at nomorobo.com.

There are also devices you can buy that are designed to filter junk calls. Consumer Reports is in the midst of testing them to see how well they work.

Robocalls on cellphones are also a nuisance. They are also illegal unless you have given permission.

On an Android phone, you can try a call-blocking app, although you will also block some calls that you may actually want to receive. iPhones have similar settings.

Nothing so far is 100 percent effective.

"Rogue companies can mask their caller ID and make it appear they're coming from within your own area code or even your own number," said Consumer Reports' Christina Tetreault.

The FCC last month clarified that phone companies can offer consumers free tools to block robocalls and spam texts. Consumers Union is pressuring the carriers to do it.

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