Mid-Missourians find creative ways to fight unceasing robocalls

4 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago Monday, February 18 2019 Feb 18, 2019 Monday, February 18, 2019 4:16:00 PM CST February 18, 2019 in News
By: David Estrada, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLE COUNTY - From not answering their cell phones, to trying multiple apps and buying equipment for their landline, phone users in mid-Missouri are doing whatever it takes to fight robocalls. 

In December, KOMU 8 News reported that records from the Missouri Attorney General's Office show Missourians requested 40,403 telephone numbers be added to the state "No-Call" list, between Sept. 20, 2017 and Sept. 20, 2018.

Charles Jackson signed up for the Missouri No-Call list 14 years ago but he said he continues to get robocalls. 

"I get probably five or six calls a week, not a lot," he said. "Sometimes from that same number, I'd get several calls from that same number and if I don't answer for three or four days, or a week, then they'd stop calling."

About three years ago, Jackson decided to not answer calls from unknown numbers on his cell phone and just let them go straight into voicemail, which he said has helped to fight unwanted calls. 

"I was just getting a bunch of calls, and then because of that it's even reduced even more because of that," he said.

Callers who go straight into Jackson's voicemail hear the following recording:

"Due to the large number of telemarketing calls, I do not answer numbers I do not recognize. Please leave your name and number and I will get back with you as soon as I can, sorry for the inconvenience. Have a blessed day!"

Jackson said sometimes people who leave him messages react with humor to his voicemail. 

"Sometimes, they'd leave little messages like, they understand what it's taking place, or they'd make some little funny comment about," he said. "They’d make comments like, well I'm leaving my name and number because I want to make sure you call me back."

Michael Phillips has also been fighting with robocalls, both on his cell phone and on his home phone. 

"They've been going on for quite some time, over the past several years," he said. "I really got perturbed this past November when somebody tried to fraudulently use my I.D. for poor purposes."

One of the first things he did was contact his phone service provider, magicJack.

"My phone company has something called 'call screenings,'" he said. "I can go into, right online and change it, turn it on and off as I please. Right now is on, I have no problem with the people trying to give me a call, no robocalls, no telemarketers."

He even bought a box to connect to his landline that blocks a certain number of robocalls.

Phillips said he continues to do research on how to stop robocalls because he is tired of getting unwanted calls. 

"I don't want that anymore, I don't want that anymore in my life," he said. 

For his cell phone, Phillips has tried six different apps that promise to stop or reduce the number of robocalls. 

"If other people are using the robos against you, use the robos for you," he said. "Why not take advantage of what's available out there right now?"

Some of the apps he has tried include Mr. Number; Calls Blacklist - Call Blocker; SMS blocker, call blocker; and RoboStop.

Most recently, Phillips installed RoboKiller, a paid app which even answers spam calls and play a recorded conversation to fool the caller. 

"If you have caller ID, you see the number that's on there, you don't have to answer that, but you can use technology for you, have the bot talk to the bot, it's a waste of their time," he said. 

Jackson retired from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He said not answering unknown numbers might not be an option for some people, especially those who need their phone in their job. 

"If they're in a business getting calls, they are getting calls all the time from numbers that they are not familiar with," he said. "It hampers them to be getting these robocalls, so they have to answer every call."

Jackson said, because of his work with the community, sometimes he has to answer calls from numbers he doesn't recognize. 

"Every once in a while I'd be involved in some type or project or something, on a committee, and I have people calling me, and so you just go ahead and answer the call and then sometimes it’s a robocall or a telemarketer," he said. 

However, Jackson said he doesn't plan on giving up his method to robocalls. 

"I'm going to continue to use the process that I use now," he said. 

Phillips also calls lawmakers to support consumers, on the legal side, in the fight against robocalls. 

"We're doing our part as the consumer, we just expect our state representatives to do the same, fight for us," he said. 

Both phone users encourage other people to not give up on getting rid of robocallers. 

Jackson said, "If you are not in a business where you have to answer the call, turn the volume down, let it go to voicemail and then when you start listening to it you can just delete it and move on but don't get frustrated."

Phillips said, "Technology is evolving, it's evolving everyday. We as a consumer, we need to take advantage of that and use that ourselves for our own protection."

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