Robocalls up 60% in 2018 - what to do to slow the auto calls

Your cell phone rings, you look at it expecting your mom, dad, spouse, or friend to be calling you. But it's none of these. So you pick up - and they got you. 

It's not just you - the number of robocalls Americans have received in 2018 is higher than ever. They were up 60 in 2018 from 2017. 

And they sound, something like this:

"Hi. My name is Thomas.  I've been assigned to your health insurance case for open enrollment.  It was really important call me back so we can tell you what your health insurance options are."

The name is of course interchangeable, as is the topic. Sometimes it's student loan related or a free hotel stay. You know what they sound like: urgent.

Cyber risk expert David Derigiotis says the 'urgency' is a popular tactic. 

"He's stating that it's really important so there's a sense of urgency and you'll see that with a lot of the scammers," Derigiotis said.

Derigiotis works at Burns and Wilcox as the cyber expert. He says there's been a 60 percent increase in robocalls. In Michigan alone, the number of robocalls was more than one billion.

"Last year there were about 1.2 billion calls made in Michigan," he said. "Next year, they're forecasting - countrywide - for it will go from 50 billion to 60 to 75 billion calls for 2019."

The increase in calls is partially due to a law that changed in Washington that now allows more people to rev up their robo calls. 

"They said wait a second, this is way too broad. We have to reword this - they never went back and revised it quite yet so it opened up the door for more companies to come in and take advantage," Derigiotis said.

And being on the do not call list doesn't really help - the people making the robocalls ignore that, because they can.

"They don't care because they're not regulated, a lot of them may be overseas. They're looking to either scam you or take advantage of you and they're not a legitimate business. So they don't care.," Derigiotis said.

There are three things you can do to tackle the calls. 

Reach out to your provider and ask about services  to block these callers.  

There are robo blocking apps to block these calls but there is one drawback: they'll ask to access your contacts/call logs.

Lastly, the extreme one, is to switch your phone to do not disturb.

"It's free, it's already on there, you activate it and you can allow calls to come through to come in your favorites or contact list and it will automatically send to voicemail any other number that's coming through. That's the most privacy conscious step we can take. It's already on your phone," Derigiotis said.