PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A lot of people are way too familiar with robocalls. They're not made by an actual person, but generated by a computer, which is why someone can get so many.
But in 2020, robocalls actually went down, according to Octavio Blanco. Blanco is a technology reporter with Consumer Reports.
“Last year, the main reason that robocalls declined was the pandemic," said Blanco.
Blanco said when someone answers a robocall and doesn't hang up, but engages with the call, a real person eventually comes on the line.
“The pandemic really impacted the ability of robocallers to pick up the phone, because call centers, especially call centers overseas, had to shut down," said Blanco.
But even with this past year's decline, Blanco said people still received billions of spam calls in 2020. He said they're only expected to increase as pandemic restrictions ease up.
“The main thing a consumer can do to stop robocalls from coming in, is don’t answer robocalls," he said.
Blanco said if someone answers a robocall, it often generates more calls.
“Second thing you can do, is you can download a robocall blocker from the Apple store or from Google Play," he said.
Blanco said phone carriers have also gotten better about providing anti-robocall tools and usually people don't have to do anything to get it.
“A lot of the phone providers are now sending their users messages that say suspected spam or suspected fraud, and so if you see those, obviously, you don’t want to answer those," said Blanco.
Finally, Blanco said someone can set up their phone to only allow calls from their contacts list. He said it's not a perfect solution, though.
“Because say, for example, that you are visiting a doctor, a new doctor, and you’re expecting a phone call back and that phone number isn’t contained in your contacts list, then that number will get blocked," he said.
Blanco said no matter what, if someone gets a robocall, report it.
“Because there are lists being kept by regulators as to what numbers are bad and so those lists are sort of like the starting point that a lot of the robocall blocking apps and others use to be able to say, okay, this call is on the bad numbers list and so we’re automatically going to block it," said he said.
Blanco said while a lot of these calls are illegal, like spam calls, some are allowed. He said the general rule is as long as someone has a business relationship with the company calling, then it's legal.
For more information on how to block robocalls, click here.