“They Should Be Stopped!” How to Block Robocalls

RICHFIELD, Wisconsin -- It's a growing problem nationwide, telemarketing scam calls. If you haven't gotten one yet, you likely will. Scam calls have been interrupting thousands of people's lives, including the life of Tina Schultz in Richfield, Wisconsin.

Schultz loves a quiet afternoon playing with her dogs, but lately, those moments are interrupted by dozens of phone calls.

"One was -- 'you won something from the Hilton. Call us back,'" Schultz said.

The calls come from different numbers, but the first six digits are always the same — 414-520.

"Every time I see a 520, I just do not answer it because I figure if it were something important they would leave me a message," Schultz said.

It appears someone is spoofing real phone numbers and using them to push a scam sweepstakes. Schultz thinks her own number is being spoofed too, based on phone calls she received.

"A lady started yelling at me, saying someone was using my phone for a contest," Schultz said.

FOX6's Contact 6 called more than a dozen numbers that have shown up on Schultz's phone since April.

The people who answered were from the Milwaukee area. They were unaware of any sweepstakes and said they never called Schultz. One man even told Contact 6  he'd been getting similar calls.

Wisconsin's Department of Consumer Protectionsays telemarketing, including robocall scams is the number one consumer complaint and it's up 45% over the previous year.

"That's technology at work here. They're able to program whatever number they want to show up as the originating number," explained Frank Frassetto of Consumer Protection. "Really it's a more or less a question of, have you been taking steps to minimize the number of scam calls that come to your phone?"

Consumer Protection officials say if you get a scam call:

  • Don't engage — Do not speak back and/or follow instructions to press numbers
  • Don't answer calls from numbers you don't recognize

Another thing to think about is what you're allowing when you make purchases online. It's possible you're giving up your phone number. Consumer Protection officials say you should be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure your personal information won't be shared with any third-party vendors.

"There are a lot of lists out there that are bought and sold," Frassetto revealed.

There are apps you can download to block robocalls. A Federal Trade Commission"Robocall Challenge" awarded the Nomorobo app the top prize.

"That's something that blocks the known scam numbers," Frassetto said about Nomorobo.

Schultz has downloaded the app onto her phone in hopes that it won't be ringing as often from now on.

"These people, they should be stopped," Schultz said.

Another line of defense is making sure you sign up for the Do Not Call Registry. However, it doesn't really help for scam calls because scammers don't care if you're on the list or not. They're still going to call.

If you get a scam call, you can report the numbers to Consumer Protection. They have a hotline you can call at 1-800-422-7128 or file a complaint by clicking HERE. Consumer Protection provides those phone numbers to the FTC at the end of every month.