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Protecting Your Mobile Phone from Unwanted Callers: Ten Useful Tips

You just sat down to enjoy a delicious dinner when your cellphone rings. Thinking it’s probably family, a friend or business colleague (because who else would call?) you answer, only to dismayingly discover that a telemarketer has your cellphone number.

While mobile phones are wonderful communication devices, they are not immune to the frustration of unwanted callers. Fortunately, there are steps you can take. Here are ten useful tips for avoiding unwanted callers:

1.      Sign up on the Do Not Call (DNC) Registry – Make this your first step. The FTC introduced this registry in 2003, so many mobile phone users may have neglected to add their number to this registry. Simply go to www.donotcall.gov and register your phone number. Also, check the website to see if your state has a registry, and if so, list your mobile number there too.

Note: there are exemptions to this listing. Calls from or on behalf of political organizations, charities and telephone surveyors are still permitted, as are calls from companies with which you have an existing business relationship. So don’t expect this registry to create a world with absolutely no unwanted callers, though you can minimize those too (see tip #2).

2.      Ask to be added to private DNC lists – Most companies, survey firms and charities have an internal Do Not Call list. When you get a call from such an organization, request that your mobile number be placed on their list. Reputable groups, even ones with which you have an established business relationship and therefore the right to phone you, will typically comply with your request.

3.      Contact your mobile provider – Depending on which carrier you use, there may be a service available to block unwanted callers, so call your provider or check its website.

4.      Check your phone user manual – Some mobile phones allow you to block calls via your settings. For example, some let you program them so that any unknown calls ring silently, going to voicemail, where you can then delete them.

5.      Give out your number cautiously – Restrict the number of people to whom you provide your mobile number and you’re more likely to avoid unwanted calls.

6.      Limit phone downloads – Downloads to your cellphone make your number readily available to the company from whom you downloaded information. If you do download information, be prepared to possibly receive calls from that company and make sure you ask them to put your number on their do not call list.

7.      Don’t open texts from unknown sources – No, an unwanted text may not be as obtrusive as those always-ill-timed phone calls, but opening such a text provides access to your cellphone number. Delete the text or forward it as spam to spam@uce.gov.

8.      Read the fine print on online sites and contests – When you sign up for something online, look for check boxes that let you opt out of providing personal data or those that automatically check you in to receive further updates, which you could receive via your mobile if that is the number you provided.  Make sure to check or uncheck such boxes as appropriate.

9.      Download apps – Apps that allow you to block unwanted calls are increasingly available for all the mobile platforms. Many are free; some charge a small monthly fee.

10.      Contact the FTC – As a last resort, contact the FTC and file a complaint if you are unable to stop a particular company (or person) from repeatedly calling your cellphone.

Posted in: Be Aware, Personal Privacy, Tips & Tricks

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