If you haven’t noticed by now, there is no sacred place. Decades ago we lost our home phone to various forms of solicitation phone calls.
The National Do Not Call Registry is a nice concept, but it doesn’t really stop the calls, it just limits them. Now, if you are like me, you get countless phone calls on your cell phone. Most of them fall into the “neighbor spoofing” category—a call from a number that has your same area code and prefix, which is intended to make the recipient think it is a legitimate call from somebody in your community.
The Federal Communications Commission has many tips to stop or at least help curtail the number of calls you receive.
• Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers—if you do and determine it is a scam call, hang up immediately;
• Don’t press any buttons even if they ask if you want to be removed from future calls;
• Don’t answer any questions;
• Don’t give out any personal information; and
• If you question the legitimacy of a call, hang up and call the number listed on the company’s website.
These tips are great, but they typically won’t reduce the number of calls over the short term.
Some mobile carriers offer tools that you can use to help reduce the number of unwanted calls coming through. For instance, as a Verizon customer, I have downloaded their Call Filter app on my mobile device. For those who don’t have Verizon, I am here to introduce you to another free app called Hiya.
Hiya is a free app available for both Android and iOS users. Essentially, it is a call screener that works with your phone to provide a bit more detail when you receive an incoming call. For instance, when you receive a call with Hiya installed on your phone, it will compare the incoming number to its database and alert you if the number appears to be a possible scam or fraud call.
One of the great things about the app is it allows you the choice to automatically block fraud and nuisance calls or just use the warning that appears with the incoming number when your phone rings. It also offers enhanced protection from neighbor scam calls by allowing you to enter your area code and prefix.
As another layer of protection, you can allow Hiya to whitelist your contacts through the app so the phone numbers don’t accidentally get blocked for any reason, or add your own list of phone numbers to permanently whitelist them.
Though the app is free, you can pay for premium features that include a robust Caller ID, reverse name lookups and an increased frequency of system updates to protect your privacy.
There are several other apps available to try, like YouMail, RoboKiller, or Nomorobo, but to me Hiya is easy to operate and has a free option that provides the key features you need in order to reduce the number of scam or fraud calls that you receive on your mobile phone.
For all these reasons and more, I call Hiya a lifesaver!
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Russell Lahodny is vice president of W.A.C.E. and vice president of local chamber relations at the California Chamber.