How to Block Robocalls and Spam Calls

PCMag
PCMag
Aug 2, 2019 · 7 min read
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Are you getting too many phone calls from spammers and telemarketers? You can take several steps to battle those annoying, unknown callers.

By Lance Whitney

Are you sick and tired of the robocalls and spam calls you get on your landline or mobile phone? Lawmakers are trying to pass legislation that would address the scourge, but until then, there are a few actions you can take yourself—beyond registering your phone number with the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry (which doesn’t stop scammers and disreputable telemarketers from calling you).

Apple iPhones and Android phones come with built-in features for blocking specific phone numbers, and mobile carriers offer blocking tools as well. Several third-party apps, such as Nomorobo, Hiya Caller ID and Block, RoboKiller, and Truecaller , strive to block telemarketing calls. Let’s check them out.

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Block Specific Numbers on iPhone

Robocallers cycle through thousands of phone numbers, and many include the same telephone prefixes as your own phone number. To block them as they come in on an iPhone, open the Phone app and tap Recents. Tap on the Info icon next to the number you want to block. Tap Block this Caller > Block Contact. That number is now blocked.

Block Specific Numbers on Android

The steps for blocking numbers on an Android phone vary based on your phone and version of the OS. Here’s one example. Open the Phone app. From the recent calls screen, look for and tap the number you want to block. Tap More. Tap the command to Block number or Block/report spam. Confirm the message asking if you want to block the number.

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Type the Number on Android

Another example for Android phones: From the Phone app, tap More > Settings > Blocked Numbers. If necessary, Add a Number. Type the phone number you want to block and then tap + or Block to block it.

AT&T Call Protect

AT&T serves up a support page with directions for blocking calls on different types of phones. The company also provides a blocking app and service called Call Protect for iOS and Android, and a service known as Smart Limits. In early July, AT&T said it would offer a stripped-down version of Call Protect to all customers for free in the coming months, which will add automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam-call alerts. Premium Call Protect features, like sending certain categories of calls directly to voicemail or reverse numbers lookup, cost $4 a month.

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Verizon Call Filter

Verizon Wireless now offers a free version of its Call Filter service for subscribers with compatible phones and postpaid plans. The free version tries to detect and filter out spam calls. It alerts you when an incoming call is likely to be spam, lets you report unsolicited numbers, and can automatically block robocalls based your set level of risk.

For $2.99 a month per line, the paid version of Call Filter kicks in Caller ID, a personal spam list, and other features.

iPhone users can download the Call Filter app from the App Store. The app should be preloaded on Android devices, but you can find it on Google Play if not.

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T-Mobile Scam ID and Scam Block

T-Mobile now offers its Scam ID and Scam Block features free to all T-Mobile postpaid and Metro by T-Mobile customers. Scam ID will identify incoming calls are coming from likely scammers, but Scam Block will let you block all likely scammers before the call even comes in. For $4/month, the Name ID feature will identify a caller’s name and location, block calls, and send categories of calls directly to voicemail.

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Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Sprint

Sprint offers the My Sprint app through which subscribers can block specific calls. It also sells the Premium Caller ID app and service for $2.99 a month, which screens calls from unknown numbers.

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Using Nomorobo

A variety of third-party mobile apps try to block robocalls and spam calls based on a list of known offenders.

Available for iOS and Android, Nomorobo attempts to clamp down on robocalls and other telemarketing calls by scanning a blacklist of known phone numbers. The app can block a spam call and send it to voicemail or allow it through and identify it as phone spam. Nomorobo can also protect you against spam text messages, serve as an ad blocker on the web, and help you report a robocall or spam call.

Nomorobo costs $1.99 a month, though you can take it for a spin via a free two-week trial.

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Using Hiya Caller ID and Block

Designed for iPhones and Android phones, Hiya Caller ID and Block can block or warn you of robocalls and scam calls based on a database of known scammers.

The app tackles phone calls associated with fraud and illegal activities, as well as those connected with telemarketers. Hiya can detect spoofed calls that use the same initial digits as your own number. You can even type a phone number into the app, and Hiya will reveal its source and tell you if it’s a suspected spam number.

The basic app is free. A premium edition with more features is available as a seven-day trial, and then costs $2.99 a month or $14.99 a year.

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RoboKiller

RoboKiller tries not only to block spam calls but also attempts to mess with the spammers. The app’s Answer Bots can automatically answer spam calls with prerecorded nonsense designed to frustrate them and waste their time. You can also create your own bot responses. The app tries to block calls based on a database of known spammers, but you can also add specific numbers you want to block.

The Android app is $2.99 a month or $24.99 per year, while iOS starts at $3.99 per month or $29.99 per year after a one-week free trial.

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Truecaller

Made for iOS and Android, Truecaller strives to block spam phone calls and text messages. The app tries to identify each incoming call, especially those from unfamiliar numbers, so you know if it’s legit or not.

Truecaller can automatically block unwanted calls based on known spammers, as well as numbers you manually add. You can also look up specific names and phone numbers to get information on them. You can even make phone calls directly from the app to identify and call friends and other contacts.

The basic app is free. For $1.99 a month or $17.99 a year, you can remove all ads and enjoy other benefits.

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Do Not Call List

While scammers likely won’t respect the FTC’s Do Not Call List, it can’t hurt to register your landline and mobile phone numbers at donotcall.gov.

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Verify Your Registration

If you think you may have already registered, click Register Your Phone > Verify Here. Type your phone number and email address and click on Submit. At the next screen, click Verify to confirm your number and email address.

The next screen tells you that you’ll receive an email indicating whether your number is already registered. Check your email for the message.

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Register Your Phone Number

If you’re not registered, return to the Do Not Call site and click Register Your Phone > Register here. Enter your phone number and email address. Click Submit. Confirm your information at the next screen and click Register. The next screen directs you to check a message in your email. Click on the link in the message to complete your registration. A page pops up to confirm that your registration is complete.

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Report Unwanted Calls

Next, you can report a robocall or scam call to the FTC. The agency can’t act on your specific complaint, but it will suggest steps you can take and collect the information you provide in its own fight against sleazy telemarketers.

Return to the Do Not Call site and click on the icon to Report Unwanted Calls. Click Continue on the next screen and fill out all the details about the phone call in question. Hit Continue again to submit the information.

Provide additional details at the next screen and then click on Submit. Alternatively, you can call the FTC at 1–888–382–1222 to report an unwanted call.

Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com on July 30, 2019.

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