NY1 For You: How to Avoid Robocall Scams

A local consumer protection agency is warning New Yorkers about an increase in robocall scams. Susan Jhun filed the following NY1 for You report.

Joan Davis didn't know what to think when she received a call from her own number.

"It was a recorded message, and the lady, woman said to me there was trouble," Davis says. "She understood that I owed money, and it could be settled out of court. If I wanted to pursue this, just push 1. If I wanted to get my name off the list, push 2.

Sensing a scam, Davis didn't push either and hung up immediately - the perfect response to recorded solicitations, otherwise known as robocalls, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which has seen complaints of robocalls nationwide more than double over the last several years.

"In 2009, we had about 69,000 complaints a month about robocalls. Last year, we had about 175,000 complaints a month," said Deborah Marrone, assistant regional director for the Federal Trade Commission.

Despite stopping billions of calls and recovering roughly $75 million from robocallers who violate the do not call rule, the FTC says billions of illegal robocalls still take place, as Internet-powered phone systems have made it increasingly cheaper and easier for scam artists to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world.

"Hang up the phone. Don’t press one. Don’t press any other number on the phone," Marrone said. "Because if you press one, forget it. Then, you’re on a lead list. And they’ll sell your name. And you’ll be a real target."

Another way to avoid robocalls may be to block calls depending on whether your phone company will charge to do so. At the very least, the FTC encourages those who receive robocalls to report them.

To report a robocall, log on to ftc.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.

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