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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > April 2018 > Fighting Illegal Robocalls with Technology

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Fighting Illegal Robocalls with Technology

Did you know that technology can make the fight against illegal robocalls a little easier? Certain products and services – including mobile phone apps – can help stop the calls from reaching you.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently began releasing lists of phone numbers that have been reported by consumers to be “robocalls.” The lists are released each day to telecommunication carriers and other industry partners. This is an effort to help telephone companies and other service providers to develop call-blocking solutions. For this reason, it is more important than ever to report potential Do Not Call Registry violators.

When reporting potential violators, keep in mind that the Do Not Call Registry generally does not apply to calls from charities, political organizations, telephone surveyors, companies with which you have an existing business relationship, or where you have given express written permission to the organization or caller.

Many robocall-blocking apps involve blocking numbers that you or others have designated as robocall phone numbers. They also may allow you to create lists of calls that you approve and know are legitimate. Many of these apps are free or available at a low cost, but make sure to check out the app before downloading it. As the FTC explains, “some apps may upload your contact information, along with information about what numbers you call or call you. The app’s privacy policy should explain how it gets and uses your information.”

CTIA, the wireless providers’ and manufactures’ trade association, provides a list of some of the available mobile apps designed to stop robocalls.  

In addition to stand-alone apps, some cell phones have built-in call-blocking features, and some service providers also have their own blocking features. These features may allow you to block certain telephone numbers, identify nuisance calls you want blocked in the future, and even set “do-not-disturb” hours to block all calls at a certain time of day. 

Call-blocking equipment also may be available to install on a traditional landline telephone. Some devices use a blacklist you develop or an ongoing list of known robocall phone numbers to be blocked. (Such call-blocking equipment may be limited to certain service providers or home telephones.)

In 2015, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and 44 other attorneys general called on five major phone companies to offer call-blocking technology to their customers. In a joint letter, the attorneys general explained that enforcement efforts alone could not stop the problem and that the better solution would be to stop intrusive calls before they reached consumers.  

To report Do Not Call violators, contact the FTC by visiting or by calling 888-382-1222.