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Stop annoying robocalls to your phone with all the tricks we know

TO-call-Protect-robocall-spam call

We show you every current way to stop calls.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

You know the drill: Your phone rings and the caller shows a number that looks vaguely familiar so you answer it. Instead of a friendly voice, you hear a robot warn you that your social security number will be disabled or so you owe IRS money and you must call immediately.

These robocalls are designed to trick you out of your hard earned money. Thankfully, the government, wireless operators, and telephone manufacturers are working to eliminate the annoying and seemingly direct-stop calls we all receive on a daily basis.

For example, in July, T-Mobile announced Scam Shield, a free suite of services that block robocalls and help protect you from fraud. If you are a T-Mobile or Sprint customer, you must install an app when it launches on July 24, or you can activate Scam Block, by following these steps.

Last year, President Trump signed the law tracked team, a two-party legislation that gives state authorities and law enforcement more power to phase out robocalls by targeting the perpetrators.

Specifically, the Traced Act extends the law on restrictions on law enforcement to follow bad actors, increases the penalties and requires telephone companies to authenticate calls and determine if the telephone number calling you is genuine. For his part The FCC previously adopted a proposal which allows operators to more aggressively block spam calls.


AT & T’s Call Protect stops unwanted calls.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

On the ground use wireless transport networks SHAKEN / STIR technology to identify and block spam calls, not only in their respective networks, but also between telephone providers. Even Apple added a feature to iOS 13 which lets you prevent unknown calls from ever ringing on your phone. Google has expanded the Call Screen feature to direct suspicious spam calls to Google Assistant before your phone even rings, and when Android 11 will be launched later this year, it extends robocall identification and prevention features to extend beyond the standard app of the Android app.

It will take time before the Traced Act is implemented in all agencies and telephone providers, so do not expect to see a dramatic reduction in unwanted calls overnight.

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

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

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How to stop robocalls


Best practice for keeping annoying robocalls at bay

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

  • Do not answer calls from blocked or unknown numbers.
  • Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize.
  • Do not assume that an incoming call really comes from a local number just because it looks like 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 website to find an official number.
  • If you answer a call and hear a recording like “Hey, can you hear me?” just hang up.
  • The same applies to a call where you are asked to dial a number before connecting to a representative.

When you answer a call and interact with the voicemail or by pressing a number, it lets spammers know that your number is real. They can then sell your number to another company or start targeting your number more often.

iPhone-x-notch 6142

Apple promises to lock robocalls from your iPhone soon.

Josh Miller / CNET

When it was first launched, Google conversation screen the function probably went against the FCC’s advice by responding and interacting with Robocall on your behalf. In all cases, Google has added new features to the Call Screen for its Pixel phone lineup. It can now detect robocalls and spam calls and block them for you. Google Assistant will interact with the caller, and if it determines that the call is legitimate, it will direct the call to your phone.

Apple iOS 13, released last year, adds many new features, including Silence Unknown callers, which adds the option to route calls from unknown numbers – numbers that are not in your contacts, emails or messages – directly to your voicemail. All legitimate callers can leave a message. And that’s the rubbish: We often get important calls from numbers we do not store in our phones, so you can miss important calls this way. But if all else fails and you are desperate to stop robocalls, this is a valid option. As far as we can find in iOS 14 right now, nothing new has been added to further eliminate robocalls.

If you find that you are receiving a lot of spam messages, you can forward the message to the number 7726 (which spells “spam”). It will not prevent the number from sending you an SMS 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

Call screening is part of Pixel 3.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Contact your supplier

All four major wireless carriers offer some kind of call blocking feature. Some are free, while others are not but should be.

  • AT & T’s Call Protect app is available for iOS and Android. The free version blocks calls from “probable fraudsters” and marks telemarketing calls. You can also add numbers to a block list in the app. The paid version contains caller ID for unknown numbers and offers mobile security features that are not related to Robocalls. The premium version of Call Protect costs $ 3.99 per month.
  • Verizon’s call filter app is automatically activated 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, spam lookups, and a personal block and spam list. Call Filter is built into most Android devices out of the box (which you’ve probably been prompted for) but is also available in 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 robocalls and share your personal information. The full app and service will be available on July 24, but you can activate the Scam Block right now by calling # 662 # from your phone. Blocks will reduce the number of robocalls that make it to your phone.
  • Sprint’s Call Screener is now free thanks to T-Mobile. Eventually, Sprint customers will migrate to T-Mobile’s system and be able to use the entire Scan Shield product range. Until then, you can download and use Call Screener Pro. The service identifies and either detects or blocks suspicious spam calls and allows you to report numbers as spam.

Contact your wireless service provider to see if it offers a similar service.

firewall iPhone-x-max

Firewall takes a new method to stop spam and robocalls from ever reaching your phone.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Use a third-party app

If your provider does not offer an app or service to cut down on robocalls, or does so but it is 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 makes it easy to report a number if a call slips through.

Hiya is a free app that I have been using on Android and iOS for a long time with success. It’s from the same company that runs AT & T’s Call Protect app, as well as Samsung’s built-in call blocks and spam. Samsung Galaxy owners can activate the built-in service in the Phone app below settings > Number id and spam Protection. The installation 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 with similar features include YouMail and RoboKiller.


Hiya offers robust call display.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

The Firewall app is only available on iPhone ($ 699 at Apple) and does a fantastic job of blocking calls. In the event that you need to make a call that you would rather not use your real phone number for, the subscription provides $ 4 per month unlimited fake phone numbers for single use.

Another option is to sign up for a free Google Voice phone number that you can use to sign up for things instead of giving your real number – and when robocalls start entering that Google Voice number, use the block feature. Just know that call blocking can end up being a lot of work because robocallers are constantly falsifying various phone numbers.

None of the above solutions are perfect, and probably will not be until carriers have integrated the technology required to control caller ID forgery, so right now you need to do a little extra work to reduce the number of robocalls you receive to a minimum. Between being careful with 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.

And again, carriers have begun to use SHAKEN / STIR technology to verify callers, which should reduce the number of robocalls we all receive. For those with an iPhone, learn where to find the unknown iOS 13 blocking feature, but remember that using may mean that you miss calls from doctor’s offices and the like. And for those with a Pixel phone, Google’s call screen feature will certainly help and can even entertain you.

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