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There seems to be an uptick in the number of people who want to know how to stop robocalls. It feels like nowadays we receive more calls from robots and spammers than we do from our own friends and family. In 2019, Americans received a total of more than 58.5 billion robocalls. For 2020, the average person has already received 103.4 robocalls, which means receiving multiple robocalls every week. Not only are robocalls annoying and distracting, but they can also be dangerous as many robocalls are scams looking to steal your money or collect your personal information.
Although there has been legislation passed to temper robocalls, such as the TRACED Act in 2019, there are still measures you can take to stop robocalls more immediately and more effectively.
Here’s how to stop robocalls:
Register your phone on the Do Not Call list
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a national Do Not Call registry, which will help reduce telemarketing calls. It will not block, however, scammers and disreputable telemarketers. Registering is free and you can do it by calling 888.382.1222 (voice) or 866.290.4236 (TTY). Make sure you are calling from the phone you want to register. Additionally, if you receive a robocall after registering, report the number to the FTC so that they can add the number to their list.
Block individual callers
If the same number keeps spamming you with phone calls, then going into your phone and blocking that individual number will make a big difference. If the spam calls you receive are mostly from a different number, then this option will feel a bit like whack-a-mole and it’s best to try something else.
To block an individual caller on an iPhone, open the Phone app and go to the section “Recents” in the app. Click the Info icon (blue i with a circle around it) that is to the right of the number you want to block. Select the “Block this Caller” option that is written in red and then choose “Block Contact.”
On an Android device, you will also want to open the Phone app. Then, select “Recent Calls” or “Call History,” depending on your device and operating system version. Select the number you want to block and then click the button that either says “Block” or “Report Spam.” Confirm you want to block the number.
Silence unknown callers
Turning your settings to Silence Unknown Callers is a risky choice as it means you will not hear a call from anyone who is not in your contacts. Instead, the call will be sent straight to voicemail and then appear in your “Recents” section in the Phone App. You will have to call that person back if it’s a legitimate number. If you want to be able to pick up your phone when someone outside of your contact list is calling you, such an Uber driver, a delivery person or restaurant employee, then turning on the Silence Unknown Callers feature is not your best option. If you’d prefer to call these people back than to continue to receive robocalls, then go for it. Here’s how you do it.
To turn on the Silence Unknown Callers setting for an iPhone, you will have to have iOS 13 or higher installed. Then go to Settings > Phone > Silence Unknown Callers. If the Silence Unknown Callers button is green, then you have successfully switched it on.
To block all unknown callers on an Android, you will have to open the Phone App, go to the settings menu, select the block numbers option and activate the “Unknown” switch.
Go through your wireless carrier
All three major wireless carriers also provide robocall blocking tools. You can download your carrier’s free, basic app or upgrade to premium for a small monthly charge.
AT&T Call Protect
If your wireless provider is AT&T, you can download the Call Protect app. The basic version of the app is free for all AT&T Mobility subscribers. If you decide the basic version of the app isn’t sufficient, you can upgrade to a Call Protect Plus. This premium version offers enhanced caller ID and a reverse number lookup feature for $3.99/mo.
Verizon Call Filter
For Verizon Wireless customers, Verizon offers the free app “Call Filter” to help block robocalls. With the app, you will be able to detect spam calls, report up to five unwanted numbers as spam and filter all spammers based on the risk level you choose. If you upgrade to Call Filter Plus for $2.99/mo., you will receive added security features, such as putting a name to unknown numbers through caller ID, creating your own personal block list and assessing the risk level of incoming calls.
T-Mobile Scam Shield
T-Mobile customers can download the app Scam Shield for free. With Scam Shield, you will be able to block scam calls, report scams, see Caller ID even if the number isn’t in your contact list, see the number of likely scam calls the app has blocked and ensure that important numbers still come through even if the app deems the number ‘Scam Likely.’ For $4/mo., you can upgrade to Scam Shield Plus and receive additional features, such as voicemail-to-text, the ability to force certain types of calls to voicemail and the option to create a personalized list of numbers for Scam Shield to always block.
Use a third-party app
Instead of going through your phone carrier, you can opt for a monthly subscription through a third-party app. If you’re looking for the best call blocker app, some of the most popular are RoboKiller, Nomorobo and Hiya. Since all three robocall blockers offer a free trial or free version of the app, try each one for a week or two and decide which is best for you.
RoboKiller is probably the most popular robocall blocking app. With a global database of 1.4 billion analyzed numbers, RoboKiller is able to eliminate up to 99% of spam calls and 95% of spam text messages. The iOS edition costs $3.99/mo. or $29.99/year and the Android app version costs $2.99/mo. or $24.99/year. RoboKiller also offers a one-week free trial.
Nomorobo is a slightly less expensive option as it costs $1.99/mo. or $19.99/year. You also get a two-week free trial with Nomorobo. Through Nomorobo, you can block robocalls, telemarketers, spam texts and phone scammers.
Hiya: Spam Phone Call Blocker offers both a free version and a premium version for $3.99/mo. or $29.99/year. With the premium version, you have access to the features phone spam protection, call blocker, caller ID, reserve search and contact management.
Our advice is to try all the free options first, such as registering your number on the Do Not Call list, using the blocking features on your phone and experimenting with the basic, free apps, before paying for a premium robocall blocking app.
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Written by:Ari Howard
Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content
Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team, focusing on broadband and wireless news, as well as broadband and TV provider deals. She recently graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor’s degree in… Read more
Edited by:Shannon Ullman
Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content
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