Blocking Unwanted Calls

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The Prevalence of Robocalls and Spam Calls

We’ve all had it happen to us, we’re seemingly going about our day, tackling errands, working, picking up the kids, etc. when we get a mysterious phone call from a number we’ve never seen, with our area code!  Even stranger is when the number includes an unrecognizable area code from an area or state we have no tie to. Most of us know this call is probably a mistake, or a scam, but find ourselves picking up the phone anyway.  Unfortunately for us, it usually ends up being another spam or robocall. We know how frustrating this can be, so we’re offering up some tips on how to block those pesky robocalls so they don’t take up any more time out of your day. 
 

What is the Difference Between Robocalls and Spam Calls? 

Robocalls are made by robocallers that leave automated, pre-recorded messages. Spammers, however, are unwanted callers that are most likely calling a large number of recipients indiscriminately. 
 

What is a Robocall? How do Robocalls work? 

Robocall is short for “robotical call.” This type of phone call uses a computerized autodialerauto dialer. Once the receiver picks up the call, the autodialerauto dialer either plays a prerecorded message or connects the call to a live person.  
 

Are Robocalls Legal? 

Yes, in fact they are rather useful in many instances. They can be used for appointment reminders, school closing, emergency information, public service announcements, etc. This is because this technology makes it possible to alert thousands of people rather quickly at a low cost. Furthermore, the FCC allows political organizations, pollsters, survey takers, and religious organizations to also utilize this technology. 
 

How Do I Know if a Call is Spam?

Some tell-tale signs that are a call is spam include:

1. The organization has a generic sounding name 
2. There is pressure to act immediately 
3. You hear a recorded, generic message on the other end 
4. They are asking for information they should otherwise know 
5. They are requesting private information or payment 
6.  The recording will initially sound like a real person until there’s a pause for you to speak then the recording will start again. 
 

How to Block Robocalls and Spam Calls

The best thing you can do is block unwanted calls, report spam calls, as well as educate yourself on this issue by reading the consumer tips from FCC.gov. Some tips include not responding to calls or texts from unknown numbers, refraining from sharing your personal information, avoiding clicking any links in text messages (unless you know the sender and confirm with them that the link is legitimate). You should also be cautious if you're pressured to share personal information or send money. If you’re donating to a charity, confirm the legitimacy of it as well as the proper way to donate via their official website. 

You can actively avoid receiving communications from telemarketers by registering your mobile and/or landline phone numbers with the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry. Still, you’re going to have to take some additional actions of your own to minimize the frequency of these types of calls and texts. 

It is likely that scammers won’t respect that FTC's Do Not Call Registry. Still, it’s worth registering your landline and mobile phone numbers at donotcall.gov. On this website, you can check to see if your number is already registered, add your number, as well as report unwanted callers. 
 

What Blocking Features Does My Phone Have? 

Your phone most likely has features that enable you to block unwanted calls and texts, this is especially true if you happen to have a smart phone like an iPhone or Android.  
 

How to Block Calls

Robocallers use thousands of different phone numbers, so unfortunately blocking one or two numbers won’t suffice. Fortunately, you can block them as they come in by opening your phone app and tapping Recents. From there, you can tap the Info icon next to the culprit’s number, then proceed to tap Block This Caller > Block Contact. It’s also worth noting that many times iPhones will show “Scam Likely” on the screen if it’s suspected the call isn’t legitimate. 
 

How to Silence Calls on iPhone

If you have iOS 13 or higher, you can silence unknown callers automatically. This means that any unknown caller will go straight to voicemail, as well as show up in your recent calls list. This will allow you to call them back if you choose to. To enable this feature, go to Settings > Phone. From here you can turn the switch on to silence unknown callers.  
 

Blocking Specific Numbers on Android

There is no one-size-fits-all option for blocking numbers on an Android, since settings vary based on device and the operating system. Generally, you should be able to open the Phone app and select the call history. From here, you can tap a number and find the option that says block and/or report as spam. Once you’ve done so, you need to confirm that you definitely want to block this number.  
 

Blocking All Unknown Callers on Android 

Again, this process varies depending on which device you have. Typically, you can open the Phone app and go straight to settings. From here, you can activate the switch to automatically block all unknown calls. You can also add specific numbers in manually from here.  
 

Third-Party Apps 

There are several third-party apps like Nomorobo, Hiya, RoboKiller, Truecaller, and YouMail that assist with block communication efforts from telemarketers. 

Nomorobo

Price: $1.99/month 
Trial: Free 2-week trial 

Scans a black- list of known phone numbers, the app blocks spam calls and sends them straight to voice-mail or allows it to go through while also identifying it as spam. 

Hiya

Price: Basic version is free. 
Premium edition is $2.99/month or $14.99/year 
Trial: Premium edition offers a free seven-day trial. 

The app warns you of both robocalls and spam calls based on their directory of known phone numbers. You can even type phone numbers into the app and it will notify you of whether it’s a suspected spam or fraudulent number. 

RoboKiller

Price: $3.99/month, $29.99/year or $39.99/year for a two-year subscription.
Trial: One-week free trial 

This app takes it a step further than many of the others. Not only does it block spam calls, but it also messes with them by automatically answering and playing prerecorded silly content meant to frustrate the callers. You can even create your own responses for them! 

TrueCaller

Price: Basic app is free. It is $4.49/month or $29.99/year to remove ads and to have access to other benefits. 
Trial: None 

This app mainly blocks both spam phone calls and texts. It identifies incoming calls, including those from unknown numbers. You can set it up to automatically block numbers you don’t recognize, as well as phone numbers manually added by you. 

Additionally, you can look up names and numbers to gather more information, as well as make phone calls directly through the app. 

YouMail

Price: Free. If you upgrade to a Plus plan, you receive an unlimited voicemail mailbox for $5.99/month. If you upgrade to a professional plan, you can add a custom greeting, three virtual numbers, and voicemail menus for $10.99/month. 
Trial: None 

This app offers virtual voicemail, so you can view voicemails from calls that were blocked. With the free version, you can set YouMail as your primary voicemail service for all incoming calls, as it offers the ability to pick and choose which ones you block. 

 
If you’re willing to pay money, you can upgrade the service to receive the extra features mentioned above.
 

We hope that this article helps you to successfully tackle those annoying robocalls and spam calls once and for all! As you can see, there are a ton of options for combatting them so hopefully one or several of these options prove to be useful, saving you both time and aggravation. 
 

Happy Blocking! 
 

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