Here's how to protect yourself from robocall scams

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Debt collectors, special offers, sometimes even recordings in different languages -- unwanted automated robocalls are not only a headache, but they're costing consumers hundreds of millions of dollars lost in scams.

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Consumer Reports reveals simple ways to protect yourself right now, and also looks into new technology that could permanently hang up on robocalls once and for all.

Tired of this type of messages? "I'm calling about an online request you once made about health insurance coverage."

Judy Rosen, a therapist who needs to keep her phone close, is fed up with robocalls. "Sometimes in the middle of someone telling me something really important the phone will go off and it will be one of these robocalls. It's very annoying," she said.

And she's not alone. In August, consumers received more than 4.2 billion robocalls. Many coming from scammers trying to trick consumers out of money.

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"They're offering you some sort of product, and they're asking you to either wire them money from your bank account into their account, or go to the store and pick up a preloaded credit card and send them money that way," said Octavio Blanco, Consumer Reports Money Editor.

According to a study, scam calls will account for nearly half of all mobile calls by 2019. "A lot of them are the same area code as my phone so I assume it's a friend or someone I know or something like that, and I pick it up," admits Rosen.

It's a common tactic called "spoofing" -- when robocallers disguise their number to look like one that comes from your local area. There's a new technology with a strange name that could help.

"Shaken and stirred technology is promising, it's something that's being developed by the phone providers as a way to sift out spoofed calls," said Blanco.

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Still, it could be years before consumers see the benefits of the new tech. In the meantime, here is what you can do now.

List your phone number with the national Do Not Call Registry, ask your phone company if they offer an advanced robocall-blocking service, and consider a call-blocking app. Nomorobo here. , Hiya here.
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