Here’s how to block robocalls and phone scammers in NC



North Carolina has won $14 million in a $210 million multi-state settlement that Dish Network has agreed to pay for robocalls, Attorney General Josh Stein announced Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. (Dreamstime / TNS)


For many, robocalls and telemarketers are impossible to dodge.

The calls are often frequent, and aside from the measures Apple and Android have in place to filter out potentially fraudulent calls, they seem unavoidable.

The telemarketers have been identified as North Carolina’s top consumer complaint filed with the North Carolina Department of Justice, Attorney General Josh Stein said.

“Caller bots continue to be a daily nuisance and a threat to our hard-earned money,” Stein said in a statement. “I know how frustrating it is to get these calls and texts all the time. That’s why I’m leading the nationwide charge of partnering with other attorneys general, federal agencies and the phone companies to put in place technology solutions to stop robocalls and prosecute robocallers who scam North Carolinians I will continue our efforts to reduce robocalls in 2022 and regain our peace of mind.

Spam calls are also the Federal Communications Commission’s top complaint. In March, the agency issued the biggest fine in its history, sending cease-and-desist letters to six voice providers that consistently violated FCC guidelines, according to their website.

Common Phone Scams

Any scam can happen over the phone, but there are a number of angles scammers like to use, according to the Federal Trade Commission:

  • Imposter scams: A person pretends to be a trustee of a government agency, such as the IRS or Social Security Administration, or a family member or lover.

  • Debt relief or credit repair scams: Scam artists will offer to lower your credit card interest rate, repair your credit, or cancel your student loan debt if you pay them costs.

  • Business and investment scams: Callers may offer to help you start your own business or guarantee large profits on an investment.

  • “Free” trials: Callers may offer you a free trial, but then sign you up for products that you are billed for monthly.

  • Loan scams: These scams include the promise of loans or credit cards for an upfront fee.

  • Prize and lottery scams: Callers will pretend that you have won a large sum of money for which you have to pay taxes, registration fees or shipping costs.

  • Travel scams and timeshare scams: Scam artists promise free or low-cost vacations that can end up costing you in hidden fees. Sometimes after paying you find out that there is no vacation.

Targeting fraudsters by phone?

Seniors are often common targets for phone scams, as they are “considered to be among naïve segments of the population,” according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Seniors lose about $3 billion every year, the National Council on Aging said.

Fake checks and employment scams often target young people, while middle-aged and older adults fall victim to romance and investment scams, the FTC said. People are estimated to have lost $304 million to romance scams in 2020 alone.

How to avoid scammers

The FCC offers these tips on how to stop robocalls and unwanted phone scams:

  • Do not answer calls from unknown numbers.

  • Please note: Caller ID showing a local number does not mean that it is from a local caller.

  • If you answer the phone and the caller asks you to press a button to stop receiving calls, hang up. Scammers use this tactic to identify potential targets.

  • Do not answer any questions, especially those that can be answered with “yes”.

  • Never give personal information to an unknown caller.

  • If you receive a request from someone claiming to represent a business or government agency, hang up and call the number listed on the company’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.

  • If you have configured a mailbox, be sure to set a password for it. Hackers can spoof your number and access your voicemail if it is not password protected.

  • Talk to your phone company about blocking tools and explore apps you can download to automatically filter unwanted calls.

  • If you already use robocall blocking technology, let that company know where the unwanted calls are coming from so they can block the numbers for you.

  • To block telemarketing calls, register your number on the do not call list available on the Federal Trade Commission website.

Applications to block the crooks

Here are some apps you can use to block robocalls and telemarketers:

What if you have already paid a crook

If you’ve ever been scammed, it may be difficult to get your money back. If you act sooner rather than later, there’s a better chance of getting your money back.

Here are some ways to get your money back if you’re scammed, according to the FTC:

  • If you paid a scammer with a debit or credit card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately.

  • If you paid with a gift card or prepaid card, contact the company that issued the card and ask if they can refund you.

  • If you transfer money to a scammer using Money Gram or Western Union, contact the company to file a complaint.

  • If you’ve given a scammer remote access to your computer, update your software, run a scan, and remove anything problematic.

  • If you gave your password to a scammer, change it immediately. If you use the same password on other sites, change it too and make sure to create a strong password that is not easy to guess.

  • If you’ve given your Social Security number to a scammer, visit to learn how to monitor your credit report and see if it’s being misused.

How to report telephone scams

If you lost money to a phone scam or have information about the company that scammed you, you can report it at

This story was originally published January 20, 2022 01:00.


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