If you’re getting spam calls every day, here’s what you can do to stop them

Unsolicited calls from spammers, scammers, telemarketers, and robots have scarred me for life, so much so that when I see an unfamiliar phone number calling me, I just won’t pick up. Instead, I let it go to voicemail each time and then listen to what they have to say. Oh, my car insurance is expiring (it’s not). Hmmm, apparently I won the lottery too (I didn’t).

This year alone Americans are expected to receive over 52 billion robocallswhich breaks down to about 1 billion calls a week, according to YouMail, a company that specializes in call blocking.

And those calls come in all shapes and sizes. You’re probably familiar with good old “scam” calls, but there are more sophisticated attacks that spoof local and well-known company numbers to trick you into giving up your personal information and cash. More recently, these attacks have shifted to SMS where they exist Phishing text messages sent from your own phone number.

No matter what the calls say, one thing is for sure – they need to stop.

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission sought to solve the robocall problem by asking major wireless carriers to do so Start with the stir/shake technology. stir/shake checks all incoming and outgoing calls for mobile operators that are routed through their networks. By checking every call, carriers can reduce the number of fake or fake calls. But it only stops robocalls one avenue — it’s not the be-all and end-all. You might still get spam calls for free rides or fake notifications that your student loan payment is overdue.

Continue reading: CNET’s interview with FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

You can read more about it Stir/shake here. As the FCC continues its crusade, keep reading this story to learn how you can help stop your phone from ringing as often throughout the day and getting calls from would-be scammers.

How to keep annoying robocalls to a minimum

According to the FCC, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce automated calling:

  • Do not answer calls from blocked or unknown numbers.
  • Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
  • Don’t assume that an incoming call is really from a local number just because it looks like it.
  • Do not answer questions that can be answered with “yes”.
  • If someone calls you and claims to be from Company XYZ, hang up and call the company yourself. Use the company’s website to find an official number.
  • When you answer a call and listen to a recording, e.g. B. “Hello, can you hear me?” just hang up.
  • The same goes for a call where you’re asked to press a number before being connected to an agent.

If you answer a call and interact with the voice prompt or press a number, spammers will know your number is real. They can then sell your number to another company or target your number more frequently.

When it first started, Google call screen This feature arguably went against the advice of the FCC by answering and interacting with the robocall on your behalf. However, Google has added new features to the call screen for his Pixel phone lineup. The feature can now detect and block robocalls and spam calls before they reach you. Google Assistant will interact with the caller and transfer the call to your phone if it determines the call is legitimate.

Apple’s iPhone has the opportunity to do so Mute unknown callers, which adds the option to forward calls directly to voicemail from numbers not in your contacts, email, or messages. Any authorized caller can leave a message. But here’s the catch: we often receive important calls from numbers we don’t save on our phones, such as B. a doctor’s office or a handyman, so that you could miss important calls in this way. But if all else fails and you’re desperate to stop robocalls, this is a valid option.

If you find that you are receiving a lot of spam text messages, you can forward the message to the number 7726 (which means “spam”). It won’t stop the number from texting you right away, but it will allow your carrier to see where it’s coming from and put a stop to it.

Call screen feature on a Google Pixel phone

Call Screening is a feature of Google’s Pixel phones.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Check with your cell phone provider

All four major carriers offer some form of call blocking feature. All have a free option and a premium tier. But let’s face it, all robocall blocking services should be free. This should not be a way for carriers to make some money off us.

  • AT&T ActiveArmor is available for iOS and Android. The free version blocks spam and scam calls and offers annoying alerts and a personal block list, and you can block all unknown callers. AT&T ActiveArmor Advanced costs $4 per month per line, with added benefits of caller ID for unknown numbers, reverse lookup, identity monitoring, and public Wi-Fi protection.
  • Verizon’s call filter app is activated automatically for Android users with a postpaid plan. The service offers spam detection, a spam filter, a call log for blocked or spam calls, the ability to allow calls from specific numbers (iOS only), and the option 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 search, a personal block list, and a spam risk meter. Call Filter is built into most Android devices by default (you were probably prompted for this if you have an Android phone), but it’s also available on the App Store for iOS users.
  • T-Mobile’s Scam Shield is free for all customers and includes several features designed to protect you from automated calls and the sharing of your personal information. Dial #662# on your phone to activate Scam Block or download the free Scam Shield app from your phone’s respective app store. With Scam Shield enabled, you get full caller ID, scam reports, scam blocking before your phone even rings, and the option to mark numbers as favorites so they keep ringing on your phone.

Are you using a different wireless service provider? I suggest calling customer service or visiting their website to see if they offer a similar service.

Using the firewall on an iPhone XS

Firewall takes a new approach to preventing spam and automated calls from ever 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 does, but it’s too expensive, there are many third-party apps out there. 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 when a call slips through.

Hiya is a free app that I’ve been using successfully on Android and iOS for a while. It comes from the same company that powers AT&T’s Call Protect app, as well as Samsung’s built-in call blocker and spam protection service. Samsung Galaxy owners can enable the built-in service in the phone app at settings > caller identification and spam protection. Setup is painless and provides an easy way to report a number.

Nomorobo is the service 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 functionality include YouMail and robo killer.

Using the Hiya app on an iPhone

Hiya offers robust call screening.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

That firewall app is only available on iPhone and does a fantastic job of blocking calls. In case you need to make a call that you’d rather not use your real phone number for, the $4 per month subscription offers unlimited fake phone numbers for one-time use.

Another option is to get a free Google Voice phone number that you can use to sign up for things instead of revealing your real number — and once the robocalls come in on that Google Voice number, use the block feature. Just be aware that blocking calls can be a lot of work as robocallers keep spoofing different phone numbers.

None of the above solutions are perfect, but they complement the integration of your carrier’s technology that is now required to check for caller ID spoofing. So for now, you need to do some extra work to keep the number of automated calls you receive to a minimum. By being cautious about calls from unknown numbers and using a service (paid or free) you can reduce the amount of unwanted calls and spam you have to deal with.

Overall, porters have started using them Stir/shake technology to verify callers, which so far hasn’t significantly reduced the number of robocalls we’re all receiving. So for those with an iPhone, find out where the setting to block unknown callers is, but remember that using it can cause you to miss calls from doctor’s offices and the like. And for those with a Pixel smartphone: Google call screen feature will surely help and maybe even entertain you.

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