Mobile spam calls have been a nuisance for years. I go between four and six robocalls daily, and a quick survey of friends shows that I’m not alone. Every waking twenty-four hour period brings with it a new barrage.
Robocallers have upped their game past masking their spam with local, genuine-looking phone numbers. Sometimes their nonsense is amusing — similar when you lot go a threatening voicemail most your impending arrest over owed back taxes — just the vast majority of the fourth dimension, it’due south an unwelcome lark. It’s all too easy for these scammers to wield the power of the cyberspace and fire off countless calls with ease. And once fifty-fifty just a few people fall for a scam, they’ve made plenty profit to encompass their picayune expenses.
Estimates put the number of robocalls in 2022 at over 50 billion. Both the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission say they’re doing their best to become a handle on the state of affairs, and aye, in that location have been significant crackdowns. But real-earth feedback indicates that things are getting worse — non better — and it can often feel out of control. The FCC has required that U.s.a. carriers adopt a technology that volition become a long way toward combatting spam calls. Only we’re not quite at that place yet.
So if y’all’re as sick as I am of pulling a vibrating phone out of your pocket only to run across a random, suspicious number, permit’s go over the options for fighting back and restoring some sense of peace.
First, I’ll review some definitions since the carriers make of import distinctions between these calls — even if they’re all unwelcome and annoying. Here’s how Verizon looks at things:
- Robocallers: Automated, prerecorded phone messages
- Spammers: Unwanted callers that may exist calling indiscriminately to a big number of recipients; sometimes includes callers to whom you’ve given consent to contact you
- Fraud calls: An entity likely pretending to exist someone they’re not with malicious intent
Option A: Block individual numbers one past i
This is probably a hopeless endeavour if you’re aiming to completely eradicate robocalls, but if there’s a particular number that keeps calling, it’southward fairly piece of cake to block it forever from your iPhone or Android phone.
On iOS, just go to the Phone app, then your Recents, tap the blue information icon to the correct of the number you want to block, and select “Block this Caller.”
For Android, the procedure isn’t much unlike: go to the Recents section of the Telephone app, long printing on the bothersome number, and choose “Block.”
Again, this will take a lot of persistent work on your part to proceed the spammers abroad — and information technology does no good against blocked or individual callers.
Pick B: Trust (or pay) your carrier to protect you
Near of the major mobile providers take taken steps to insert themselves as a barrier betwixt you and these abrasive callers. They’ve done this through behind-the-scenes network improvements, including the SHAKEN/STIR technology that has started making it possible for carriers to verify when a telephone call is legitimate and weed out the many spoofed numbers you’re probably getting from your own local area lawmaking. In reality, those calls are probably coming from across the globe, only it’s easy for robocallers to impersonate local numbers.
All of the major US carriers offering some level of spam blocking for free as role of your wireless plan.
Phone call Protect
Available for free for all postpaid customers. $3.99 / calendar month for the Plus version
AT&T has a gratuitous service, Call Protect, that’s designed to block fraudulent robocalls and likely spam risks before they reach you, and you won’t take to do annihilation besides install the software on your phone. Call Protect won’t completely stop telemarketer calls, just information technology will at to the lowest degree brandish a “nuisance warning” when you receive those. The service also makes information technology easy to permanently block callers, and yous can build a personal block list.
There is too a Call Protect Plus service that offers caller ID, opposite number lookup, and the ability to cake or send calls to voicemail past category. These added features toll $iii.99 per month, merely the main Call Protect service comes gratuitous every bit part of your plan.
Phone call Protect is also available to prepaid customers if they own an AT&T HD Phonation-capable phone.
Download for iPhone | Download for Android
Scam Shield and Scam Block
Available for gratis for all postpaid customers. $iv / calendar month for Scam Shield Premium.
T-Mobile’south effort to combat annoying robocalls is called Scam Shield. The costless-to-download Scam Shield app bundles all of T-Mobile’south various tools — Scam ID, Scam Block, and Caller ID — and so yous can hands configure whatever level of protection is right for you. By default, suspicious calls are always flagged. Enabling Scam Block will prevent many of them from ever ringing your telephone. And T-Mobile’southward Caller ID service will frequently show the information for whoever’southward calling you, even if they’re not in your contacts.
You tin always plow on Scam Block without the Scam Shield app. To practise then, dial #662# from your T-Mobile phone. To disable information technology, just dial #632#.
Scam Shield goes across simply blocking bad calls: yous can also asking a secondary “proxy” number that y’all tin use in instances where you don’t desire to share your private phone number. And if you find yourself hopelessly inundated, T-Mobile volition permit you lot change your actual number once per year for costless.
For an added $4 per month per line, you tin can upgrade to Scam Shield Premium, which lets yous “send entire categories of unwanted robocalls direct to voicemail, like telemarketers; create ‘always cake’ lists; and become voicemail-to-text for at-a-glance access to your voicemails.” (Customers with Magenta Max plans get Scam Shield Premium for gratuitous.)
Available free for all postpaid customers
Verizon’s Call Filter service, free for postpaid lines, allows customers to “get alerts when a telephone call is likely spam, study unsolicited numbers, and automatically block robocalls based on their preferred level of take chances.”
For no charge, you can block up to 5 phone numbers that you want to foreclose from contacting you. However, blocks elapse subsequently 90 days and aren’t very helpful against robocallers with numbers that change every 24-hour interval.
You lot tin become more features, such as the ability to create a personal cake listing, for $2.99 a calendar month per line. The Verizon Smart Family plan offers additional features, including parental controls and the ability to permanently block as many as ten numbers, for $four.99 a month.
Option C: Protect yourself with tertiary-party apps
In that location are a number of services, such as Nomorobo, RoboKiller, and Hiya, that are designed to forestall robocalls from e’er ringing your phone. Most of them require a monthly (or almanac) subscription. At their core, these services rely on a constantly updating list of robocallers, spammers, and fraudsters and use that database to cease nuisance calls. (When I say “constantly updating,” I mean they’re identifying thousands of bad numbers every day.) A telephone call comes in, and the service runs it confronting that huge listing of scam numbers. If it finds a match, the incoming call gets shut downwardly before information technology reaches you.
All of them allow y’all to maintain your own personal blacklist of numbers that might be bothering you and whitelist those y’all want to get through. Some work by downloading a defended contacts listing — separate from your regular contacts — to your telephone. But both iOS and Android have recently given these services more elbowroom in taking control over your phone app and stopping the jerks from ever reaching yous. On iPhone, you’ll have to enable them in the Settings app and give them caller ID permissions before they can start working. Apple tree shows you how to do that stride-by-step right hither.
I’d recommend looking into each of these services to see which one you lot similar all-time. All of them are largely well-reviewed by customers, and all offer free trials to get started. Ane of these will ultimately be what yous demand to really fight back against the robocalls. It’s simply a matter of finding your favorite.
14-day free trial. Afterward that, $i.99 / month. Complimentary for landlines.
Download for iPhone | Download for Android
Free seven-day trial. Afterward that, $4.99 / calendar month or $39.99 / year
Download for iPhone | Download for Android
Hiya partners with Samsung, AT&T, Spectrum Mobile, and others to provide their spam ID services. For individuals, the complimentary iOS app offers spam detection and blocking; the Premium version adds a database of boosted names and more than frequent updates. The free Android app offers caller ID and spam detection; the Premium version adds spam blocking and reverse lookup.
free vii-day trial. After that, $3.99 / month or $24.99 / yr.
Download for iPhone | Download for Android
Depend on your mobile OS to protect you
Many Android phones — including those from Samsung and Google — accept built-in options for flagging suspected spam calls. If you’ve got a Google Pixel device, the entire screen will turn cherry when a spammer rings you, which is an easy style of knowing to ignore the call if you’re across the room from your phone. On Pixel phones, you tin besides tap the three dots in the upper right corner of the Telephone app and then get to Settings > Caller ID & spam; you can and then see spam IDs and filter spam calls. Other phones will take similar features.
iOS 13 introduced its own app called Silence Unknown Callers, which blocks any callers that aren’t in your contact list, oasis’t been in contact with, or oasis’t texted. Instead, those calls will get straight to voicemail. You lot tin enable it by selecting Settings > Phone > Silence Unknown Callers.
Use Do Not Disturb to only let calls from your contacts
On both Android and iOS, you can fix each operating organization’s Practise Not Disturb mode to let phone calls from only those people and businesses in your contacts list. This is a pretty drastic, sledgehammer solution to the problem of robocalls, and y’all’re virtually certain to miss calls that you would’ve liked to take answered. But those calls will get through to voicemail, and so yous can add that number to your contacts for the hereafter. I’d even so merely recommend this option if you’re
fed upwardly, and just if you lot’re very good and meticulous about keeping contacts upwards to date.
Why do more than and more spam calls await like they’re coming from a local number?!
It’due south super annoying, isn’t it? It’s a pull a fast one on called neighborhood spoofing, and RoboKiller has a practiced explainer on it hither. In brusk, scammers think that a number matching your surface area code (and perhaps even the kickoff digits of your own number) will trick your brain and brand yous more likely to reply. And it makes their deception feel even more nefarious. What if information technology’s a family emergency? Mayhap information technology’s your dr.’due south role or the pharmacy?
Thankfully, the robocall blocker apps have gotten better at spotting neighborhood spoofing. RoboKiller claims information technology’s been good at doing so since the commencement, and Nomorobo has also made detecting neighborhood spoofing a major focus.
Tip: Don’t forget to add together yourself to the Do Non Call Registry
In theory, telemarketers are supposed to be honoring the National Do Non Telephone call Registry. You can add yourself to the list by visiting www.donotcall.gov. The FTC says to permit 31 days for legitimate telemarketer sales calls to stop. Once you’ve signed upwards, your presence on the Do Non Call Registry never lapses or expires, contrary to some recent rumors. There’s no reason to renew or re-add together your number to the list.
The Do Non Call Registry simply covers
calls. Charities, political groups, debt collectors, and surveys are still allowed to call yous one time you’ve signed up. The same goes for companies that yous might’ve recently done business with. (You might be able to stop this specific type by verbally telling them to stop calling you.) Unfortunately, scammers / robocallers don’t pay the DNC Registry any mind and just ignore the affair entirely. These robots answer to no one, so you’re better off circumvoluted dorsum to one of the solutions earlier in this article.
Tip: Never let the robots know you’re a real human being
Tempting every bit information technology might be to swear up and down at a robocaller or scammer, your all-time course of action is to leave them unsure as to whether they connected with an actual person. Don’t say anything. Don’t push buttons — even if the robotic vocalism says doing so will forbid further calls. Put no faith or trust in the robot voice. Either merely allow it go through to voicemail or hang upwards immediately if yous mistakenly picked up.
Tip: Complain to the FTC
When all else fails and y’all’re consumed past despair and acrimony over the never-ending interruptions, you can always written report callers to the FTC. They’re not going to pursue every individual complaint, simply it’s certainly important to keep the commission enlightened of the magnitude of this problem. And as I said earlier, sometimes the FTC does actually take down some of these scammers.
Even with all of these tools in place, it’s unlikely you’ll avoid every robocall or spammer. Merely it should aid ease the avalanche yous’re probably experiencing right at present. And hopefully, when all carriers get call verification up and running, you’ll be able to start trusting your caller ID again and actually answer calls generally. But at to the lowest degree in 2021, that’s all the same wishful thinking.
Update September 10th, 2020, 10AM ET:
This article was originally published on March 6th, 2022, and information technology has been heavily updated.
Update October 22nd, 2021, 3PM ET:
Updates for some of the information.