How to stop spam calls: all the ways we know to block annoying robocalls


You should have started to see a reduction in robocalls, or at least have a better idea of ​​who is calling you.

Patrick Hollande / CNET

It doesn’t matter if you own a iPhone or one Android, you’ve probably experienced at least one annoying spam call. While sometimes robocalls appear to be from genuine phone numbers, they leave intimidating messages claiming to be from your bank, the IRS, or other government agencies. Some even threaten you with jail time for not paying your taxes or your student loans. But no matter what the calls say, one thing is for sure: they must stop.

Spam calls have been a nuisance for years now, especially in the United States. This year only Americans expected to receive over 52 billion automated calls, according to YouMail, a company specializing in blocking robocalls.

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission attempted to solve the robocall problem by requiring major mobile carriers to start using Stir / Shaken technology. Stir / shake checks all incoming and outgoing calls for wireless carriers that are routed through their networks. By verifying each call, operators can reduce the number of spoofed or spoofed calls. But that only stops robocalls on one avenue – it’s not a means to an end. You can still receive spam calls for free trips or fake notices that your student loan payment is overdue.

Read more: CNET Interview with FCC President Jessica Rosenworcel

You can find out more about Stir / shake here, and keep reading this story to find out what you can do to help reduce the number of times your phone rings throughout the day with calls from potential scammers.

How to minimize annoying robocalls

According to the FCC, you can follow a few simple steps to reduce robocalls:

  • Do not answer calls from blocked or unknown numbers.
  • Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize.
  • Don’t assume that an incoming call is actually from a local number just because it looks like it.
  • Do not answer any question that can be answered with a “Yes”.
  • If someone calls you and claims to be with XYZ Company, hang up and call the company yourself. Use the company’s website to find an official number.
  • If you answer a call and hear a recording such as “Hello, can you hear me?” You just have to hang up.
  • The same is true for a call where you are asked to dial a number before being put in touch with a representative.

When you answer a call and interact with the voice prompt or by pressing a number, it lets spammers know your number is real. They can then sell your number to another business or start targeting your number more frequently.

When it was first launched, Google call filter The feature arguably went against FCC advice in answering and interacting with the robocall on your behalf. However, Google added new features to the call screen for his Pixel Phone Line. The feature can now detect robocalls and unwanted calls, and block them before they reach your phone. The Google Assistant will interact with the caller and if it determines that the call is legitimate, it will route it to your phone.

Apple iPhone has the possibility of Silencing unknown callers, which adds the ability to route calls from numbers not found in your contacts, mail or messages directly to voicemail. Any legitimate caller can leave a message. But that’s the catch: we often get important calls from numbers we don’t store on our phones, like a doctor’s office or repairman, so you might miss important calls that way. But if all else fails and you’re desperate to stop robocalls, this is a valid option.

If you receive a lot of spam text messages, you can convey the message at number 7726 (which spells “spam”). This won’t stop the number from texting you right away, but it will allow your carrier to check where it came from and terminate it.


Call screening is a feature of Google Pixel phones.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Check with your wireless operator

The four major wireless carriers offer some kind of call blocking feature. All of them have a free option and a premium level. But let’s face it, all automated call blocking services should be free. It shouldn’t be a way for the carriers to make us money.

  • AT&T Call Protection the app is available for ios and Android. The free version blocks spam and fraud calls and provides nuisance warning labels and a personal block list, and you can block all unknown callers. Call Protect Plus operates at $ 4 per month per line, with additional benefits of caller ID for unknown numbers, reverse number lookup, and personalized call controls.
  • Verizon Call Filter the application is automatically activated for Android users with a postpaid plan. The service offers spam detection, a spam filter, a call log for blocked or unwanted calls, the ability to allow calls from specific numbers (iOS only), and the ability to report numbers for free. You can pay $ 3 per month (or $ 8 per month for three or more lines of service) for Caller ID, Spam Finder, Personal Block List, and Spam Risk Meter. The call filter is integrated most android devices ready to use (which you have probably been asked for) but is also available in the App Store for iOS users.
  • T-Mobile Scam Shield is free to all customers and includes several features designed to protect you from robocalls and the sharing of your personal information. Dial # 662 # from your phone to activate Scam Block, or download the free Scam Shield app from the respective app store on your phone. With Scam Shield enabled, you’ll get full caller ID, scam reports, scam blocking before your phone rings, and the ability to mark numbers as favorites so they always ring on your phone.
  • Sprint Call Filter is now free, thanks to T-Mobile. Eventually, Sprint customers will migrate fully to T-Mobile’s system and will be able to use the full Scam Shield product offering. Until then, you can download and use Call Screener Pro at no cost of $ 3 per month. The service identifies and tags or blocks suspected spam calls, and allows you to report numbers as spam.

Use another wireless operator? I suggest calling their customer service or visiting their website to see if they have a similar service.


The firewall takes a new approach to preventing spam and robocalls from reaching your phone.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Use a third-party app to limit the number of automated calls you receive

If your provider doesn’t offer an app or service to reduce robocalls, or if it’s too expensive, there are plenty of third-party apps available. You want to find an app that works on your device, offers automatic call blocking and spam alerts for suspicious calls, and makes it easy to report a number if a call goes through.

Hi is a free app that I have used successfully for some time on Android and iOS. It’s from the same company that powers AT & T’s Call Protect app, as well as Samsung’s built-in call blocking and spam protection service. Samsung Galaxy owners can activate the built-in service in the Phone app under Settings > Caller ID and Spam protection. Setup is painless and offers an easy way to report a number.

Nomorobo is the service that Verizon uses for its Fios users, but it also has a phone app. The service is free for VoIP users and costs $ 2 per month for mobile users. Additional services with similar capabilities include YouMail and RoboKiller.


Hiya offers robust call screening.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

The Firewall application is only available on the iPhone and does a fantastic job of blocking calls. If you need to make a call that you’d rather not use your real phone number for, the $ 4 per month subscription provides fake, one-time, unlimited phone numbers.

Another option is to register for free Google Voice phone number which you can use to sign up for things instead of giving out your real number – and once the robocalls start coming in to that Google Voice number, use the block feature. Just be aware that blocking calls can be tedious as automatic callers are constantly spoofing different phone numbers.

None of the above solutions are perfect, but they complement carrier integration of the technology now required to verify caller impersonation. So, for now, you need to do some extra work to keep the number of automated calls you receive to a minimum. Between being careful with calls from unknown numbers and using a service (paid or free), you can reduce the number of unwanted calls and spam you have to deal with.

In short, carriers have started to use Stir / Shaken technology to verify callers, which should reduce the number of automated calls we all receive. For those who have an iPhone, learn where the setting is to block unknown callers, but remember that using it could mean you miss calls from doctors and other offices. And for those with a Pixel phone, Google Call Filtering Feature will surely help you, and may even entertain you.

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