A Vermont Senate committee is considering legislation that would criminalize robo calls in Vermont, penalizing illegal callers with up to 90 days in jail or fines of up to $10,000.00. Senator Randy Brock, a Republican from Franklin County, is the lead sponsor of S.324, proposing such a law.

Unfortunately, many of the calls do not originate from the United States and therefore are outside of the country and prosecutors may be hard-pressed to prosecute them and enforce the laws.

Robo calls are often made using “spoofing” technology to hide their true origin by changing the caller ID to look similar to your own or a neighbor or friend’s phone number. A recent AARP study shows that 59% of Americans are more likely to answer if the caller ID shows a local area code.

The robotic voice on the other end of the line might claim to represent a utility, a name-brand company or a government agency, or it may offer you a free trip, cheap health insurance or a low interest loan.

You may be prompted to “press 1” to be removed from the list. However, even just pressing a key or answering a question will alert scammers that they’ve hit on a “live” number, and your number will be added to even more lists that are bought and sold among the criminal element that generates these calls.

Here are the things you should do to deal with robo calls:

●Let the calls go to voicemail or your answering machine, unless you are 100% sure who is calling you. Listen to the message and if it’s a threat from a government agency, utility company or some other entity, it is almost certainly a scam.

●If you did answer the phone and you suspect it’s a robo call, hang up without engaging. If the caller claims to be from a legitimate-sounding entity, hang up and call that entity on a different number that you know is the real number for that entity.

●You can obtain free and low-cost call blocking options, such as apps and services that screen calls and block spam calls. Some phone service providers are already providing much better blocking technology than they have in the recent past.

AARP recommends that you report the scam calls to law enforcement agencies. That would be a lot of work, given the number of scam calls that we receive. I’m not sure that law enforcement agencies want you to call them every time you receive a spam call. I’m merely passing on AARP’s suggestion. I am not going to call the authorities every time I receive a spam call.