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AARP estimates there could be more than 60 billion robocalls in 2019

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that nearly 50 percent of the 48 billion robocalls in 2018 were illegal — and some predict the number of robocalls will continue to rise to 60 billion in 2019, according to AARP Alabama.

The term “robocall” covers a wide array of calls, many of which are legal, such as school closing announcements and medical appointment reminders.

“Your dentist’s office can robocall you with an appointment reminder, or an airline with news about a flight change,” said Evey Owen, Interim Associate State Director of Communications for AARP Alabama. “Legal robocalls can be beneficial, but illegal robocalls can be both frustrating and dangerous.”

Illegal robocalls are those from companies that were not authorized to contact individuals, as well as those from companies or individuals who plan to steal and deploy scams. Recent examples include the social security scam, jury duty scams and/or health insurance scams.

AARP said scammers often hide a call’s true origin through what’s called ‘spoofing’— that is, faking the number that appears in your caller ID to make it seem local.

“That’s a big concern, because a recent survey by AARP found that U.S. adults are more likely to answer a call seemingly from a local area code (59 percent), an area code where friends or family live (44 percent), or an area code and telephone exchange that matches their own (36 percent),” the news release said.

AARP Alabama offers these tips on how people can protect themselves and avoid being scammed:

Screen incoming calls by letting them go to voicemail and never press a key or verbally respond to a command if you do pick up.

Add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry at Donotcall.gov or at 1-888-382-1222. 

Explore free or low-cost call blocking options that are compatible with your phone and your service provider.

Report scam calls to the Federal Trade Commission at Ftccomplaintassistant.gov or your state attorney general.

 AARP’s Fraud Watch Network can help you spot and avoid scams. Sign up for free “watchdog alerts,” review our scam-tracking map, or call our toll-free fraud helpline at 877-908-3360 to reported committed crimes.