Rights & Money

Coping With Spam Phone Calls

These tips can help get telemarketers off your back


By Matt Smith

Are spam calls and telemarketers getting you down? You’re certainly not alone. However, while new technology makes it even easier for marketers and scammers to light up your phone, it also provides you with a number of options to deal with irritating calls.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to recognize when a call is coming from a telemarketer because of the rise of “spoofing” numbers: this means that the caller adopts a fake number to show up on your caller ID, number that is often composed of random digits but sometimes appear as a local number.

The best way to deal with these marketing calls is simply to ignore them. Avoid answering calls from numbers that you don’t recognize, and if you do answer, don’t speak until you hear a real voice. Interacting with robocalls lets the callers know that you have a working number—inviting more spam calls. Even if you’re prompted to press a number to “opt out”, you should simply hang up instead.

A common scam is for telemarketers to fake your consent to credit card charges with voice recordings. Be careful not to respond “yes” to any questions unknown callers may ask, and request that they put you on their Do Not Call list to ensure that you won’t be bothered again.

You can also register your phone numbers with the Government of Canada’s National Do Not Call List for free. Telemarketers have 31 days to stop contacting you after you’ve registered. If you receive calls after this date that you believe to be in violation of the rules, you can file a complaint here.

Your phone provider may also be able to provide tools to combat unwanted calls. The government has compiled a list of resources that service providers (and other companies) have available to users, ranging from call display to blocking calls from unrecognized numbers. Another option is to look into third-party phone apps, such as Hiya, which provides screening and number-blocking services for free.

You can also manually block numbers from your cell phone by going to your recent call history, selecting that number, and selecting the “block” option. The steps may be slightly different depending on the make and model of your phone, but you’ll access these options from the same place.

Photo: Superstock.