Robocalls have become increasingly common recently but what exactly is a robocall? A robocall is simply any call that is recorded by artificial intelligence. A legal robocall can be received from any company that has been given permission to contact the owner of the phone number. An illegal robocall is any call that comes from a company that does not have permission to contact the owner of the phone number.

“Legal robocalls can be beneficial, but illegal robocalls can be both frustrating and dangerous,” explained Evey Owen, Interim Associate State Director of Communications for AARP Alabama.

 Examples of illegal robocalls include social security, jury duty or health insurance scams. Scammers often use a tactic called ‘spoofing’. Spoofing is when a scammer disguises the number in the caller’s ID to make it appear local. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimated that almost 50 percent of the 48 billion robocalls in 2018 were illegal and is predicted to rise to 60 billion in 2019.

According to a recent survey by AARP, US adults were 59 percent more likely to answer a call from a local number while 44 percent were more likely to answer a call with an area code where friends or family live and 36 percent would answer a call with an area code or telephone exchange that matches their own.

To avoid illegal robocalls, AARP Alabama suggests that people screen incoming calls by letting them go to voicemail and never press a key or verbally respond to a command. People can add their numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov or at 1-888-382-1222 or explore free or low-cost blocking options that are compatible with their phone and carrier. 

People can report scam calls to the FCC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or to the Alabama attorney general. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network can help people detect and avoid scams by signing up for free ‘watchdog alerts’, reviewing AARP’s ‘scam tracking map’ or call the toll-free helpline at 877-908-3360 if a person suspects if they or a loved one has been a victim of illegal robocalls.

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