If you answer the phone when an unknown number calls, robots probably love you. Nowadays, when you answer the phone, it’s likely a robocall spammer. They have a ton of nasty tricks up their sleeve, from posing as a member of the IRS to lying about your car’s warranty.

No matter what mask a robot wears, its end goal is the same: to snatch your money away. They’re shockingly successful. Research from Statista found that Americans lost $19.7 billion to scam calls in 2020.

Scammers are using more sophisticated tricks than ever before, so the issue is escalating. Tap or click here to find out why robocalls spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, there are five helpful techniques to help you put an end to robocalls.

1. Take advantage of carrier tools

The best way to stop robocalls is to look at your carrier’s resources. Each of the four major companies has tools you can use to identify, filter and prevent robocall numbers. Some carriers make you pay an extra monthly fee to activate these services, but network-level blocking is free of charge across all the carriers.

AT&T

AT&T subscribers can use a free iOS and Android app called AT&T Call Protect. This lets you manually block unwanted calls. Plus, it has automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam warnings.

Other free options include:

  • Scanning and blocking suspected scam calls and robocallers.
  • Advance warnings of potential telemarketers or spam calls.
  • Non-contacts can be sent straight to voicemail.
  • Customized blocklists.
  • Reporting robocalls that make it through the filters.

Want even more protection? Drop $3.99 a month, and you can try out Call Protect Plus, which includes the above features, plus:

  • Alerts that tell you how likely it is an incoming call is spam.
  • More details about “unknown” callers.
  • Reverse number lookup.
  • Customized call filter options.

Verizon

If you’re a Verizon user, you need to check out its Call Filter app. So far, it has identified and blocked 300 million scammy phone numbers.

Here are features you’ll get with the free options:

  • Identifying unknown numbers by name, if possible.
  • Scanning and blocking suspected incoming scam calls.
  • Reporting robocalls that make it through your filters.
  • Reverse number lookup.

Or you can buy one of two options. Pay $2.99 per month per line or $7.99 per month for three or more lines, and you can use Call Filter Plus. This includes:

  • Spam lookup gives you access to more than 100 million known spam callers from Verizon’s database.
  • Blocking unknown numbers once and memorizing the numbers for the future.
  • Rank callers based on robocall likelihood.

T-Mobile & Sprint

Since T-Mobile and Sprint are now one company, that means you benefit from two massive databases of known scam callers. You’ll also love T-Mobile’s anti-robocall campaign called Scam Shield, which helps all T-Mobile and Sprint subscribers. This offers the following benefits:

  • All incoming calls are now automatically filtered on the network level to make sure they’re real.
  • Enhanced Caller ID will display a “Scam Likely” label on phone calls that happen to make it through the filter.
  • A “proxy phone number” will be given to subscribers for use in place of their own for online sign-ups and subscriptions.
  • Be ID Aware, which notifies you when your private information is compromised and shows up for sale on the Dark Web.

Want to activate these features? T-Mobile customers can dial #662# on their smartphones and press the call button. You’ll need to download the Scam Shield app from the iOS App Store or Google Play for the proxy number.

2. Join the National Do Not Call Registry list

Of course, even if you activate the features above, you may still struggle with robocalls. Scammers often slip through the tracks to steal your money. According to data from market research firm Hiya, the average person who falls for a scam loses $182.

Some unfortunate souls lose as much as $500, though. Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry to make sure you don’t lose a dime. Putting your name on this list makes it illegal for telemarketers to call you.

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