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How you can reduce unwanted calls

A reader: I get random calls on my home and cellphone constantly. They come from everywhere. Most of the time, I don’t even answer them. At least once a week, I get voice messages on my home phone from the “IRS” with threats of arrest warrants, fines or deportation. The calls are just so annoying. I know that they are scams, but what can I do to report it?

Action Line: You can reduce the number of unwanted calls that you get by registering with the National Do Not Call Registry. It’s for personal phone numbers only; business lines and faxes are not included.

Simply go to donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222. You can register up to three phone numbers at a time. If you are calling to register, you must call from the line that you are registering.

Registering will not take care of all telemarketing calls. And it will not stop scammers who ignore the law. If you continue to get unwanted calls, report them to donotcall.gov or at 888-382-1222. The Federal Trade Commission says that those who violate the National Do Not Call Registry or place an illegal robocall can be fined up to $16,000 per call. The FTC says most sales calls will stop once your number has been on the registry for 31 days.

You can also go to bbb.org/scamtracker/us to report scams.

You still may receive political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls and telephone survey calls. You also may receive calls from companies that you have recently done business with. If you don’t want to get those calls, simply ask the company not to call you again. They are supposed to honor your request.

If you get calls from one number, contact your phone company. Ask them to block that number. If you get unwanted calls from lots of different phone numbers, you may want to look into a blocking solution. You can subscribe to online call blocking services. There are also call blocking boxes. There are smartphone apps that block unwanted calls, too. Find out if there is a cost and if they are effective in blocking the calls.

Once you have registered your number, it will remain on the do not call list until you ask to remove it or it is disconnected and reassigned.

If your number is on the registry and you get an unwanted call, HANG UP. Don’t interact, do not press any buttons, just hang up. Then, file a complaint with the FTC. (Your number must be on the registry for 31 days before you may file a complaint.)

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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