Are you getting more calls from robots and marketers than from friends and family lately? You’re not alone. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives more than 375,000 complaints about robocalls every month. And often what pops up on your screen doesn’t even look like spam—it’s a local number that leads you to believe it could be your doctor calling to confirm your appointment (and not someone telling you about your mega tax refund). While you usually just swear into your device and hang up, we’re here to let you know that you can fight back. Here, five things you can do to stop spam calls.
Try the National Do Not Call Registry
Get your number on the National Do Not Call Registry run by the FTC. This should help keep sales calls away although not all marketers abide by it (and it won’t help you with political campaigns, debt collectors or charities either). But hey, it can’t hurt, right? To add your name, visit donotcall.gov or dial 1-888-382-1222. The registration process is easy and free and you should (hopefully) see a decrease in unwanted calls in about a month.
Protect Yourself with an App
Download a third-party app to deal with the problem. These apps are able to identify who’s calling you and block numbers that show up on a crowd-sourced spam and robocaller list. Here are three of the most popular ones.
- Hiya: Free on both Apple and Android (although Hiya Premium offers more spam-blocking features at a cost).
- RoboKiller: Free 7-day trial. After that, it’s $2.99 per month or $24.99 per year.
- Nomorobo: Free 14-day trial. After that, it’s $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year.
Let Your Phone Carrier Do the Work for You
Most major carriers have methods that will help you keep spammers at bay, although some will charge you for it and exactly what’s included in each plan varies. Reach out to your carrier for more details.
- AT&T: Available for free for all postpaid customers, Call Protect will identify “Suspected Spam” callers and give you the option to block these numbers in the future.
- Sprint: For $2.99 per month, a Premium Caller ID service will identify phone numbers not in your contact list and flag robocalls and spammers with a “threat level” to let you know how suspect the call might be.
- T-Mobile: Scam ID and Scam Block (both free for postpaid customers) will identify annoying callers and prevent them from calling you.
- Verizon: Call Filter identifies suspected spammers and lets you block or report them.
Block Individual Numbers
While this won’t get rid of all junk calls, it’s a good option if there’s a particular number that keeps calling you. On your iPhone, simply go to your recent calls and tap the blue information icon next to the number that you want to block. Scroll down and tap "Block this caller." For Android phones, go to recent calls and long press on the offending number, then choose block.
Buy a Phone That Automatically Detects Spam Callers
Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note smartphones and Google’s Pixel and Pixel 2 automatically flag suspicious calls as they come in. On Google phones, the entire screen turns red whenever a known spammer calls you.
One more thing: Don’t engage with robocallers—if you do, the computers on the other end of the line may be able to gather information about you (saying “yes,” for example, could be used as an agreement to a future purchase). Your best bet is not to answer (if it’s a real call, it’ll go to voicemail) or simply hang up. In the words of Lady Gaga, stop telephonin' me. Got it?