Don’t Expect an End to Robocalls

A new pact will reduce but not eliminate incessant phone calls.

An agreement reached between state attorneys general and the major telecommunications companies to thwart robocalls is good news for anyone who has a phone. But don’t expect those ubiquitous calls from people claiming to be from the IRS or wanting to sell you low-cost health insurance to disappear.

Under the agreement, telecom companies will provide customers with free call-blocking tools and help attorneys general prosecute robocall offenders. But the pact is voluntary, there is no deadline, and it doesn’t include many small telecom providers. “Any bad guy with a computer can make a boatload of calls,” says Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail (opens in new tab), an app that helps block robocalls. “This will help shut them down, but it will not be instantaneous.”

In the interim, consider adopting a belt-and-suspenders approach to deter unwelcome callers. Start by signing up for services your provider has already rolled out. In addition to those tools, consider downloading a third-party app, such as YouMail or RoboKiller (opens in new tab). These apps reject calls from dodgy numbers.

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Quilici predicts that over time, the new call-blocking tools, combined with efforts to prosecute offenders, “should make the problem become more of a nuisance as opposed to the catastrophe it is now.

Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.