Are robocalls driving you nuts?

CHARLOTTE — We all seem to get those annoying - and often illegal - robocalls. Many of the automated calls appear to be from local numbers, but usually originate from out of town fraudsters.

YouMail's Robocall Index tracks the volume and extent of robocalls in the United States. In March alone, a record 3 billion robocalls were received across the country. YouMail says Charlotte exceeds the national average. 21.8 million robocalls were placed to the 704 area code this past February alone. That means most of us receive an average of 13 robocalls per month.

Our 980 area code gets hit hard too. It averages more than 10 calls per month.

The Federal Trade Commission is working to stop robocalls, but it's hard. New technology often makes it difficult to track people down and trace phone calls.

Our sister station in Boston tracked one robocall operation to Florida. Federal prosecutors said Justin Ramsey made millions of calls and labeled him a "recidivist robocaller."

In a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Ramsey was "permanently banned from robocalling." But 25 News found he seemed to be back in business - hidden away in an office park with a backroom operation filled with people working the phones.

Experts say don't even answer the phone if you suspect a robocall. If you do, you'll be flagged as an active user, and you'll likely get even more calls.

Also, don't call back. Your voice can be recorded and edited to sound like you've agreed to a purchase.

Help stop robocalls

So, what can you do?

The National Do Not Call Registry has proven ineffective, but it's a good starting point.

There are also free downloads available in your phone's app store like YouMail and True Caller.

Your mobile phone provider also offers some call blocking features. You can get those explained to you in their store.

To help fight robocalls, the FTC urges consumers to take notes when you receive a robocall and share details, including the number, time of the call and subject of the recording, online here.

The agency said those details help the FTC pick their next targets for robocall investigations.