If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following question was submitted by a reader and answered through the efforts of our news staff.
What can be done to stop the constant harassment of robocalls?
If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it's a robocall.
But first note that not all robocalls are illegal. Ones allowed under Federal Trade Commission rules without your permission include — and this will be widespread during an election year — calls from candidates running for office or charities asking for donations.
A robocall trying to sell you something is illegal unless a company has your written permission to call you that way, according to the FTC, which has set up a website describing call-blocking solutions.
The call-blocking option you choose will depend on whether you’re getting calls on a mobile phone, traditional landline or home phone that uses the internet.
You can download a call-blocking app on your phone, and many are free. Also, check your phone carrier’s website or call customer service to find out what call-blocking services it offers or recommends.
If your home phone is a traditional landline, you can buy and install a call-blocking device. Call-blocking devices are typically small boxes you attach to your phone. These range widely in cost — from $20 to $90.
On phones that use the internet, the FTC recommends internet-based call-blocking services.
“Your carrier might be able to recommend a specific service,” according to the FTC. “But you also can search online for expert reviews. Some services are free and some charge you each month.”
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