MASON CITY, Iowa - They're annoying, even pesky, and they're getting more clever - fraudulent and suspicious phonecalls, including robocalls.
According to phone call and data transparency firm First Orion, there has been a drastic increase in these and other suspicious calls since last year, and that number is only expected to climb to 44.6% by early next year.
The report also found that there are a number of techniques callers use to get people to answer the phone, including "neighborhood spoofing", where a caller can disguise a phone number and display it as a local number on a user's caller ID, or even your own personal number.
Emily Willemsen uses her phone regularly, but has noticed an increase in suspicious calls, including those disguised as numbers from someone she might know.
"I've gotten some phone calls from what I thought were maybe cell phone numbers of maybe that I didn't have programmed in my phone to somebody that I knew, and ended up when I called them back was just blank... just a dead dial tone."
And she's noticed it's happening more and more, including to her own family members.
"My daughter has had a phone, how do I know somebody's not calling and pretending to be me or texting her saying it's me to meet her somewhere, and it's not. That strikes me as concerning just like these other calls."
So what can you do to better protect yourself from calls like these? If you have a smartphone, you may be looking for apps such as Nomorobo and RoboKiller, which can help screen out suspicious and fraudulent calls. However, Philip Biermann with Iowa Cell Phones and Repair says to make sure you do your homework before you install them.
"Watch for third party apps, because a lot of the third party apps outside of your Google Play store or the iTunes store... if you're outside of that, you kind of playing with fire a little bit there.
Biermann has also experienced these types of calls with callers using his owner number, and mentions that blocking a number is also an option.
"I know we don't know each other but go ahead and block my number, and at least whatever robo call is using my number won't be able to use that number going forward."
According to First Orion, most traditional call blocking solutions and software won't catch spoofed calls since callers use legitimate numbers to hide behind. Third-party apps are largely ineffective when int comes to detecting spoof calls since they can only blacklist against known numbers, not legitimate numbers that are momentarily hijacked by fraudulent callers.
Last year, the FCC adopted a new set of rules designed to protect consumers from unwanted suspicious calls, allowing phone companies to block calls that are likely fraudulent because they originate from certain types of phone numbers.
In addition, First Orion announced the launch of in-network technology called CallPrinting, which can track and thwart new misleading phone calls. It will be offered to several major U.S. and international phone carriers beginning this Fall.
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