GREENSBORO, NC - The phone rings and rings and there's no one on the other side saying anything! To get all the endless calls to stop, you might put your number on the Do Not Call registry. But, the phone doesn't magically stop ringing because you are on the registry.
The Do Not Call registry still allows robocalls from charities, political organizations and companies you do business with. And, scammers and hackers don't abide by the registry.
Robocalls and caller ID spoofing calls happen all the time and will increase as the holidays approach.
“Nine times out of ten those numbers aren’t valid numbers. If you tried to call them back it wouldn’t go anywhere,” said Tech Expert, Kent Meeker.
Why? The person on the other end is trying to get you to answer the phone, to collect data, sell you something or even sell your phone number to someone else.
Here’s how it works. A telemarketer or someone else will give phone numbers and fake caller ID information to an autodialer. The autodialer will then use an automatic machine to dial thousands of numbers at one time, through VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) or caller ID Spoofing.
When someone answers the fake phone call, whomever is doing the autodialing now knows, the number they called is valid and belongs to a person.
“(They think) we can sell this number, we can give it to a different agency,” said Meeker.
This is when a real person will call you and try to get political data or, as the holidays approach, will try to sell you something.
Recently, a viewer reached to the 2 Wants to Know.
He wanted to remain anonymous, but provided us with a call log of 15 numbers that he received calls from, every day, every hour, from 8am to 8pm.
The viewer found out, whoever was robocalling him, was going through VOIP provider, Peerless Network, INC.
The first six numbers were the same for each phone call. 336-663. The last four numbers changed each time. The viewer reached out to Peerless, and the company opened a complaint ticket and told the viewer robocalls and spoofing problems can take a while to fix.
It’s important to note, the VOIP provider isn’t responsible for the spoofing phone calls, in this case, Peerless.
“It's calling into their systems and sending it over to him on his phone. They don’t know where that’s coming from. All they are doing is just routing it. They are not responsible for where the call is coming from,” said Meeker.
Eventually the calls stopped to this particular viewer. Although Peerless did not respond to News 2’s request for a comment, The Better Business Bureau told News 2 in an email that Peerless is working on the problem.
“In addition, they do tell people they are not the ones calling and let them know if they submit the phone number, they’ll contact the owner,” read the BBB’s email. “We have no indication the business is not following through on their promised actions.”
So, what can a person do to protect themselves and stop robocalls? Meeker suggested contacting the VOIP (or in some cases, cell phone) provider.
“They can monitor all the phone calls come in and start to create a pattern and hopefully see where they are coming from.”
This can help the VOIP provider track the IP address and monitor unwanted calls to your phone. You can also make a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission or donotcall.gov.
Make sure you do not answer unknown calls. Let the person leave a voicemail (if it is indeed a person calling.)
If you do answer the call, don’t follow any prompts, like pressing one or two.
Do not answer any questions or provide any information. If a person is on the other side of the call, make sure to ask who the person is and who they are with. If you do not know the person, hang up.
Use apps on a cell phone to detect unwanted calls and block fake calls for you. A list for Android, iOS, and Windows is provided here.
There’s one other trick, called spoofing. They will use numbers you’re familiar with, even people you’re familiar with to call you as well. For example, on your cell phone, you might be a call from a friend you know, only to answer and find out the caller is not your friend. In this case, hang up immediately and do not provide any information.
If all else fails, Meeker has one final solution.
“At some point, you may end up having to change your telephone number.”