Your phone rings -- and although it's an unknown number, you answer, because it's local.

After you say hello, there's a pause, and then a recorded message saying you can lower your interest rate or get a better deal on insurance. Sometimes, the "caller" even claims to be from the IRS. In other words: you've been robo-called.

Robocalls are on the rise -- and the FCC reports that these bot-calls are the #1 complaint among consumers. In fact, the FCC reports that consumers received an estimated 2.4 billion robocalls per month last year, due the ease of internet calling systems.

The good news is, there are things you can do to avoid these scammy callers; here are 5 ways to combat robocalls:

1. Don't answer

This is the easiest - and most effective - thing to do. If you see a number you don't recognize, don't answer. Answering tells the robo caller that you have a working number, and you'll be added to their systems for future calls.

2. Opt into the Do Not Call Registry

This is an easy way to (hopefully) avoid some of the robocalls. The Do Not Call Registry is run by the Federal Trade Commission; if a robocaller still calls you, you can then report them for breaking the law. (See #3).

3. Report the Robocallers

If you receive unwanted calls, you can report them on the FCC's website here. Unfortunately, it can be nearly impossible to take legal action against robocallers -- but reporting them is a step in the right direction.

4. Use apps

Apps such as  Truecaller, RoboKiller, Mr. Number, Nomorobo and  Hiya can block the calls. YouMail will stop your phone from ringing with calls from suspected robocallers and deliver a message that your number is out of service. Also check with your phone carrier to see what tools they have available to combat pesky robocallers.

5. Stay quiet

If you do accidentally pick up and say "hello," be sure to stay quiet once the robocaller starts its speech. Your "yes" answer can be recorded; and, in worst-case scenarios, used to authorize fraudulent charges on credit cards or give your permission to other prompts.

Sources: NY Times, Robocallers flooding your cellphone? Here's how to stop them. |  FCC, Cutting Off Robocalls

Photo credit: Flickr/Karolina Kabat

Posted 10:11 AM

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