Are you sick and tired of the robocalls and spam calls you get on your landline or mobile phone? Lawmakers have been trying to pass legislation that would address the problem, but there are a few actions you can take on your own.
iPhones and Android phones come with built-in features for blocking specific phone numbers, while mobile carriers offer their own blocking tools. Several third-party apps—such as Nomorobo, Hiya Caller ID and Block, RoboKiller, Truecaller, and YouMail Voicemail & Spam Block—strive to block telemarketing calls.
You can also register your phone number with the FTC's Do Not Call Registry, though that won't stop scammers and disreputable telemarketers from calling you. Let's check out each option.
Block Specific Numbers on an iPhone
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 your iPhone, open the Phone app and tap Recents. Tap the Info icon next to the number you want to block. Tap Block this Caller > Block Contact. That number is now blocked.
Silence Unknown Callers in iOS 13
With iOS 13 or higher installed on your iPhone, you can take a more effective but drastic measure to clamp down on spam calls. The Silence Unknown Callers feature automatically silences all calls from unknown numbers. Those calls are then sent to voicemail and appear on your Recents lists so you can see and return the call if it's legitimate. To enable this, go to Settings > Phone. Turn on the switch to Silence Unknown Callers.
Block Specific Numbers on Android
The steps for blocking numbers on an Android phone may vary based on the device and OS you have. You should be able to open the Phone app and select recent calls. Tap the number you want to block and find the command that says block and/or report as spam. You will then have to confirm the message asking if you want to block the number.
Block All Unknown Callers
Some Android devices also allow you to block all unknown callers. While the process will differ, you can typically open the Phone app and enter the settings menu. Find the option for blocking numbers and activate the feature. In this example, you activate the switch to automatically block all unknown calls. You can also manually add phone numbers that you want blocked.
AT&T Call Protect
AT&T customers can access a support page with directions for blocking calls on different types of phones. The company also provides a fraud and spam call blocking app for iOS and Android named Call Protect, and an app for the family known as AT&T Secure Family for iOS and Android.
The basic version of Call Protect is free for AT&T Mobility subscribers, with the carrier rolling it out automatically for new customers and adding it to the accounts of existing customers. A Plus version of Call Protect with enhanced Caller ID and Reverse Number Lookup features is available for $3.99 a month.
Verizon Call Filter
Verizon Wireless offers a free version of its Call Filter service for customers 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 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 pre-loaded on your Android device. If not, download it at Google Play.
T-Mobile Scam ID and Scam Block
T-Mobile 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 that are likely coming from scammers, but Scam Block will let you block all potential scammers before the call even comes in. For $4 a month, the Name ID feature will identify a caller's name and location, block calls, and send categories of calls directly to voicemail.
Nomorobo is a third-party app that 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. The service costs $1.99 a month, though you can take it for a spin via a free two-week trial.
Hiya Caller ID and Block
The third-party 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 $3.99 a month or $24.99 a year.
RoboKiller not only blocks 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 includes a database of known spammers, though you can also add specific numbers that you want blocked.
The Android app is $2.99 a month or $24.99 per year, while the iOS edition costs $3.99 per month or $29.99 per year after a one-week free trial.
Truecaller strives to block spam phone calls and text messages. The app identifies 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. Make phone calls directly from the app to identify and call friends and other contacts.
The basic app is free. For $2.99 a month or $26.99 a year, you can remove all ads and enjoy other benefits.
YouMail Voicemail & Spam Block
YouMail offers robocall blocking with visual voicemail so you can easily view any blocked calls for which the caller left a message. After signing up for a free account, you then set up YouMail as your default voicemail service for monitoring incoming calls and deciding which ones to allow and which ones to block.
There are paid versions available as well. For $3.99 a month, a Plus plan cuts out the ads and kicks in an unlimited size for your voicemail mailbox. For $10.99 a month, the Professional plan adds a custom outbound greeting, up to three virtual numbers, and voice mail menus.
Do Not Call List
While scammers likely won't respect the FTC's Do Not Call Registry, it can't hurt to register your landline and mobile phone numbers at donotcall.gov. From there, you can report unwanted calls, verify if your phone number is registered with the Do Not Call Registry, and add your number if not.
Report Unwanted Calls
You can report any robocalls or scam calls you receive 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.
From the DNC homepage, click Report Unwanted Calls. You will be asked to fill out all the details about the phone call in question, then submit the information. Alternatively, you can call the FTC at 1-888-382-1222 to report an unwanted call.
Verify Your Registration
If you think you may have already registered with the Do Not Call Registry, click Register Your Phone > Verify Here. Type your phone number and email address and click Submit. At the next screen, click Verify to confirm your number and email address. You will then receive an email indicating whether your number is already registered. Check your email for the message.
Register Your Phone Number
If you're not already registered, click Register Your Phone > Register here. Enter your phone number and email address, then click Submit. Confirm your information, then click Register. You will then be directed 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.