On my phone, I don’t typically get calls from friends, family, or coworkers. No, they are telemarketers and scammers telling me I’ve “won the lottery”. Or simply impersonating the IRS and demanding money from me.
Because of the overwhelming number of spam calls I receive each day, even if they might be important, I never pick up phone numbers I can’t immediately recognize. According to YouMail, a business that specializes in blocking them, Americans are predicted to receive over 52 billion robocalls this year alone, or roughly 1 billion calls every week.
These calls also come in a variety of forms. You’re probably familiar with the classic “scam likely” calls, but there are also more sophisticated attacks that impersonate local phone numbers. Those of well-known businesses in an effort to trick you into parting with your money and personal information. These attacks have switched to SMS, where phishing text messages are sent out using your actual phone number.
How Can I Minimize Obnoxious Spam Calls?
The FCC suggests the following simple actions you can take to lessen robocalls:
- Calls from blocked or unknown numbers shouldn’t be returned.
- Never respond to calls from unknown numbers.
- Don’t believe an incoming call just because it appears to be from a local number.
- Any questions that have a “Yes” option should not be answered.
- If someone calls you and says they are from XYZ company, hang up and make your own call to the business. To find a direct number, visit the business’ website.
- If you do pick up the phone and the voice on the other end says, “Hello, can you hear me?” Just disconnect.
- The same is true if you call and are required to press a number before speaking with a representative.
Spammers are informed that their number is real when they answer a call and interact with the voice prompt or by pressing a number. Then they can start targeting your number more frequently or sell it to another business.
When Google’s Call Screen feature first came out, it may have gone against the FCC’s recommendation by taking the call and interacting with the robocall on your behalf. For its Pixel phone lineup, Google did upgrade Call Screen with new features.
Spam Calls And Other Unwanted Calls
Calls can be identified by the feature and blocked before they reach you. After speaking with the caller and confirming that the call is legitimate, Google Assistant will transfer the call to your phone.
The Silence Unknown Callers feature on Apple’s iPhone gives you the option to send calls from numbers that are not in your Contacts, Mail, or Messages straight to voicemail. Anyone who calls in good faith may leave a message.
The catch is that you might miss important calls if you do this because we frequently get important calls from numbers we don’t store on our phones, like a doctor’s office or a repairman. However, this is a viable option if all else fails and you’re desperate to stop robocalls.
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You can forward spam text messages to the number 7726 if you frequently receive them (which spells “spam”). The number will still text you, but your carrier will be able to look into where it came from and stop it.
Consult your wireless provider
All four of the major wireless providers provide some form of call-blocking functionality. All offer both a free and a premium tier. To be honest, though, all robocall blocking services ought to be free. Carriers shouldn’t use this as an opportunity to profit from us.
Available for iOS and Android is AT&T ActiveArmor. The free version offers nuisance warning labels, a personal block list, and the ability to block all unauthorized callers in addition to blocking spam and fraud calls. In addition to caller ID for unidentified numbers, reverse phone lookup, identity monitoring, and public Wi-Fi protection, AT&T ActiveArmor Advanced costs $4 per line per month.
Android users with postpaid plans automatically have access to Verizon’s Call Filter app. The service offers spam filtering, call logs for blocked or spam calls, and spam detection. And the ability to allow calls from particular numbers (iOS only), and the free option to report numbers. Caller ID, a spam lookup, a personal block list, and a spam risk meter are all available for $3 per month (or $8 per month for three or more lines of service).
Call Filter is a feature that comes pre-installed on the majority of Android devices. But it is also accessible to iOS users through the App Store.
All T-Mobile customers are entitled to free Scam Shield, which has a number of features aimed at defending you. You can activate Scam Block by dialing #662# from your phone or by downloading the Scam Shield app for free from the app store for your phone.
Mark numbers as favorites so that they continue to ring your phone when they are called when Scam Shield is enabled. Get full caller ID and the ability to report scams. Scam blocking before your phone even rings, and full caller ID.
Reduce Your Exposure To Spam By Using A Third-Party App
There are many apps available if your provider doesn’t offer one but it’s too expensive to reduce robocalls. In order to report a number, you need to find an app that works on your device. It offers automatic call blocking, spam alerts for suspicious calls, and easy call reporting.
Verizon uses Nomorobo for its Fios customers, and it also has a phone app. For VoIP users, the service is free; for mobile users, it costs $2 per month. YouMail and RoboKiller are two additional services with comparable features.
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Only available on the iPhone, the Firewall app is excellent at blocking calls. The $4 monthly subscription offers an unlimited number of disposable fake phone numbers. If you need to make a call but would prefer not to use your real number.
Instead of providing your real phone number when signing up for services. Another option is to get a free Google Voice phone number. Once robocalls start coming in on that Google Voice number, you can use the block feature. Just be aware that spam callers are constantly spoofing different phone numbers. Blocking calls might end up being a lot of work.
While none of the aforementioned solutions are ideal, they do support your carrier’s use of the technology necessary to detect caller ID spoofing. Therefore, you currently need to put in more effort to reduce the volume of robocalls you receive. Lessen the number of spam calls you receive by exercising caution when answering calls from unknown numbers.
Carriers have begun utilizing Stir/Shaken technology to confirm callers, but this hasn’t yet significantly reduced the number of robocalls that we all receive. For those who have an iPhone, find the setting for blocking unknown callers, but keep in mind that if you use it, you might miss calls from places like doctors’ offices. Additionally, Google’s Call Screen feature for Pixel phone owners will undoubtedly be useful and even entertaining.
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