UNITED STATES—Kim from Westwood has an unsolicited calls problem: if scammers are not trying to offer her a too-good-to-be-true deal on her auto warranty, robots are calling every other day to pitch phony debt relief services.

If you are in Los Angeles, chances are a scammer has impersonated a police officer or the local social security office to demand payments from you. Some even go to the extent of threatening residents with warrants and other legal issues. There are other forms of common scams using the same playbook, but their threats hold no water.

Do you wonder how these scammers, unethical telemarketers, and robocall services can get your number? For one, if you use Facebook, your personal and contact information is likely among the over 530 million user data leaked earlier in April 2021. Since these leaked data are often available for a penny or even free, unscrupulous elements have a field day targeting unsuspecting users. Then there are the online forms you fill every other day, providing your phone number or email address for confirmation.

As annoying as it is to get these calls, you cannot turn off your home line or mobile phone forever in case of an emergency. Scammers know this, and that is why they keep pushing their luck. But that luck just ran out. In the past, every telephone booth had a phone directory of the name, phone number, and contact address of residents and businesses in the area. If an individual made unsolicited or prank calls, you cross-reference the number and mail a strongly worded letter to them. But that was a lot of work and time spent searching white and yellow pages.

With advances in communications technology and the internet, you no longer need white and yellow pages. Neither do you need to send a strongly worded letter to the telemarketer or prankster. Although doing that would be classic, it is still not worth the postage fees.

Instead, you can use a phone number search to uncover the identity of unknown callers. The service works by scanning the registries of mobile carriers in California. If your caller is using an American number, you can catch them.

From here, you can take steps to protect your online identity and stop telemarketers from calling you. If any caller demands money, hang up immediately and report the number to the Federal Trade Commission. Over 3000 law enforcers will take on the nuisance.

If a telemarketer or unknown caller remains persistent after you have warned them, consider filing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. The complaint also applies if you think you are being spoofed or labeled as a potential spam caller.

Furthermore, your phone’s built-in features can also help you stop scammers and silence unknown callers. With these settings enabled, unknown calls go to your voicemail and appear on your recent calls list. You can then perform a phone search to uncover the caller’s ID and call back, block, or report the number. This feature is available to iOS users and Android users.