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Home / Tips and Tricks / How to stop robocalls: best practices and apps that stop the annoying ringtone

How to stop robocalls: best practices and apps that stop the annoying ringtone



  att-call-protect

AT & T's Call Protect stops unwanted calls.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Robocalls is about to face their match. These are the lush, inconvenient and sometimes tricky phone calls that convey a pre-recorded message and often call for action. For example, calling you for a free trip to the Bahamas that you never applied for, or a call that trick you into giving information to the "IRS". There were over 58 billion robocalls in 201

9 alone, according to YouMail. Now, the US government and leading tech companies are attacking practices, and there are steps you can take right now.

From the executive side, President Trump recently signed the Traced Act into law, a bipartisan legislation that gives state government and law enforcement more power to liquidate robocalls by targeting perpetrators.

Specifically, the Traced Act extends law enforcement restrictions to follow bad actors, increases penalties and requires telephone companies to authenticate calls and determine if the phone number calling you is real. The FCC previously adopted a proposal that allows carriers to more aggressively block spam calls.

On the ground, wireless transport networks use SHAKEN / STIR technology to identify and block spam calls, not only in their respective networks, but also between telephone providers. Apple even has added a feature to iOS 13 that lets you prevent any unknown callers from ever ringing your phone. And Google announced that its call screen feature will soon begin routing suspicious spam to Google Assistant before your phone even rings.

It will take some time for the FCC proposal to be implemented, and it will take time for the Traced Act to be implemented in all agencies and telephone providers, so don't expect to see a dramatic reduction in unwanted calls overnight.

Also keep in mind that not all automatic calls are considered illegal. Calls from political campaigns, debt collection and charities are all allowed. What is not allowed are calls from the fake IRS agents or companies that claim you have won a free vacation that you never signed up for.

While it is not possible to completely stop robocalls from reaching your phone, there are some steps you can take to reduce the number of calls you receive.





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Best practices for keeping annoying robocalls in the distance

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

  • Do not answer calls from blocked or unknown numbers.
  • Don does not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize.
  • Just because an incoming call seems to come from a local number does not mean it is.
  • Do not answer any questions that can be answered with a "Yes."
  • If someone calls you and claims to be with the 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 like "Hey, can you hear me?" just keep up.
  • The same goes for a call where you are asked to press a number before connecting to a representative.

When you answer a call and interact with the voice question or by pressing a number, the spammer lets you know that your number is real. They can then sell your number to another company or start redirecting your number more often.

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Apple promises to soon lock robocalls out of your iPhone.


Josh Miller / CNET

When it was first launched, the Google Call Screen feature probably went against the FCC's advice by responding and interacting with Robocall on your behalf. However, Google adds new features to Call Screen for its Pixel phone lineup. The new features include the ability to detect robotic and spam calls and then prevent them from ever reaching your phone. Google Assistant will interact with the caller, and if it ends the call is legitimate, it will route the call to your phone along with information about the caller.

Apple's iOS 13 has added many new features, including Silence Unknown Callers which adds the option to direct calls from unknown numbers directly to the voicemail. When enabled, Siri allows calls from numbers found in Contacts, E-mail and Messages to go through. Everything else goes to the voicemail box, and provided the caller is legitimate, they can leave a message. And that's the rubbish – we often get important calls from numbers we don't store on our phones, and in the end you can miss important calls. But if all else fails and you are desperate to stop robocalls, this is a valid option.

If you think you are receiving many spam messages, you can forward the message to number 7726 (SPAM spell). It will not block the number from sending an SMS with you directly, but it will allow your operator to investigate where it came from and put a stop to it.

  Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL "data-original =" https: //cnet2.cbsistatic.com/img/HV4obLGLpXllrkSyXtkt9PvmgsE=/2018/10/09/2838feba-c898-4a15-a8c5-7d0d756cd33d/061-google -pixel-3-and-pixel-3-xl.jpg [19659034] Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

Call screening is part of Pixel 3.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Contact your provider

All four major wireless carriers offer a type of function to block calls to customers. Some are free, while others charge for something that should be free.

  • AT & T's Call Protect app is available for iOS and Android. The free version blocks calls from "probable fraudsters" and tags telemarketing calls. You can also add numbers to a block list in the app. The paid version provides caller ID for unknown numbers and offers mobile security features not related to robocalls. The premium version of Call Protect costs $ 3.99 per month.
  • Verizon's Call Filter app is automatically enabled for Android users on a postpaid plan. The service offers spam detection, a spam filter and the ability to report numbers for free. You can pay $ 2.99 per month (or $ 7.99 per month for three or more service lines) for caller ID, junk mail, and a personal block and junk mail list. Call filters are built into most Android devices out of the box (which you have probably been prompted to) but are also available in the App Store for iOS users.
  • T-Mobile's Scam ID is free to all customers and includes Scam Block. The service ID section will warn you that an incoming call is likely to be spam, while Scam Block blocks the call from ever reaching your phone. You need to enable the Block feature, either through the Scam Block app or by calling # 662 # from your phone. You can pay $ 4 for Name ID to see the names of incoming calls.
  • Sprint's Call Screener Basic has recently launched, and finally offers the company a free solution for its subscribers . The free version shows "Spam Caller" for potential incoming spam calls, and will also block "highest risk" spam calls and provide business ID. The premium version costs $ 3 a month and adds more labels for robocalls, caller ID for incoming calls, display name for text messages on Android and some more options you can read about here.

Check with your wireless provider to see if they offer a similar service.

Use a third-party app

If your provider does not offer an app or service to reduce robocalls, or it is just too expensive, there are plenty of third-party apps. You want to find an app that works on your device, offers automatic call blocking and spam alerts for suspicious calls and can easily report a number if a call slips through.

Hiya is a free app that I have used on Android and iOS for some time now with success. It's the same company that runs AT & T's Call Protect app, as well as Samsung's built-in call blocks and spam. Samsung Galaxy users can enable the built-in service in the Phone app under Settings > Caller ID and Spam Protection . The setting is painless and it 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 that offer similar features include YouMail and RoboKiller.

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Hiya offers robust call display.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

The Firewall app is only available on iPhone ($ 699 at Amazon) and does a great job of keeping calls from your phone. In the event that you need to make a call that you would rather not use your real phone number for, $ 4 a month subscription provides unlimited phony disposable phone numbers.

Another option is to sign up for a free Google Voice phone number. Instead of releasing your real number for random services, you can then use your Google Voice number – and when robocalls start coming in, use the block feature. Just know that blocking calls can end up a lot of work, as robocallers are constantly forging different phone numbers.

None of the above solutions are perfect, and probably won't be until the carriers integrate the technology required to control caller ID, so right now you need to do some extra work to minimize the number of robocalls you receive. Between being proactive with unknown calls to your number and using a service (paid or free), you can reduce the number of unwanted calls and spam you get on your phone.

Carriers have started using SHAKEN / STIR technology to verify the callers which should reduce the number of robocalls we all receive. For those with an iPhone, iOS 13's new feature to block unknown callers will also help, at the potential cost of sending calls from medical offices and the like to voice mail. And for those with a Pixel phone, Google Talk Screen Function will surely help, if not entertain you.

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Jason Cipriani / CNET

This article was originally published in 2018 and is periodically updated.


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