How to Block Spam Calls – A Complete Guide (2020)
Spam Calls have turned from mildly annoying to a disaster in the last couple of years. I don’t know about you guys, but I might have received more spam calls last year than the calls from people I know. Just like most smartphone owners on the planet, I have become sick and tired of receiving these spam calls. The worst part is that even though I am really careful about how and where I am sharing my personal number, the number of spammers seem to be increasing with every month. If you are also someone who is struggling with spam calls, then this is the article for you. In this article, we are going to talk about all the steps that you can take to fight against the spam calls. So, here is the complete guide on how to block spam calls on your Android or iPhone device:
Note: The article is focused on US users and carriers. So, if you reside anywhere else in the world, this article might not help you in full capacity.
A Complete Guide on How to Block Spam Calls (2020)
Since Android and iOS are the two most popular mobile operating systems in the world, we are going to talk about them separately so you guys can take the steps needed to block spam calls on your specific device. That being said, there are universal methods which anyone can use (even if they are using a feature phone, landline, or a phone running any other operating system) to block spam calls on their phones. With that said, let’s see how we can block spam calls, shall we?
Blocking Spam Calls Using Your Own Carrier
Most people don’t know about this but all the network carriers provide some sort of service where they allow you to block spam calls. Here are the spam call blocking services provided by the big four carriers in the US:
1. AT&T: Call Protect
If you are using AT&T as your service provider, you can use their “Call Protect” service to block spam calls on your device. It’s a free app provided by the company for its postpaid customers and can be downloaded from the App Store or Play Store. Sadly, the service is not available for the prepaid customers which is kind of a bummer. The service is good enough and while it won’t block all the spam calls, it will mark suspicious calls and identify them as spam. If the call is indeed spam, you can block it from right there for future. Many users have voiced concerns that the app is not able to automatically block the calls and just mark them as potential spam calls. While this is not ideal, it’s still better than having no spam call protection. At the very least you know which calls you don’t need to pick up and then block them manually from the app.
Install: Free (Android / iOS)
2. Verizon Wireless: CallFilter
Verizon’s CallFilter technology identified and blocked calls from spam numbers. The service was available to both prepaid and postpaid customers who were ready to pay a $2.99/month subscription price. That said, Verizon made the service available to all users for free starting March 2019. The new service includes all the features included in the free version (spam detection, blocking and reporting), plus the ability to identify unknown callers by name. But do note that there’s still a premium version that brings extra features including personal spam and block list, risk meter, and more. You can learn more about Veriszon’s CallFilter feature by clicking here.
Install: Free, $2.99/month (Android / iOS)
3. Sprint: Premium Caller ID
Sprint’s Premium Caller ID is very similar to Verizon’s service as in it is a paid service and supports only a limited number of devices. One of the benefits of Premium Caller ID is that not only does it block spam calls, it also identifies the numbers that you are receiving calls from if they are not in your contact list. The service has received mostly positive reviews from users however some new iPhone users have reported problems. Even if that’s the case, I think it is an issue that Sprint can fix quite quickly. The service doesn’t require you to download any apps and works directly with Sprint phones. You can check out your phone’s eligibility and other information by clicking on the link below.
Visit: Website ($2.99/month)
4. T-Mobile: Scam ID, Scam Block, and Name ID
T-Mobile probably provides the most powerful scam call protection of all the US carriers. Its scam protection comprises of three services which are Scam ID, Scam Block, and Name ID. Scam ID allows users to see when calls come in from likely scammers while the Scam Block allows them to block all likely scammers. Both these services are available free of charge to all postpaid customers. Name ID is a bit more powerful as it can not only block spam calls but can also identify the caller’s name and location. This is a paid service and costs $4/month. Even if you don’t pay for it, the first two services will effectively block most of the spam calls. Also, all these services are built into T-Mobile’s network so users don’t have to install any additional apps or services.
Apart from the above services, T-mobile has recently launched a new caller verification service which brings an extra layer of spam protection. Now the carrier will verify the calls that you are receiving and will tell you if the calls are from a person or a scammer. That said, it won’t block spam calls automatically. Also, the service has only been released to Note 9 customers in a software update as of now. The company has said that it will be made available to more phones in the near future.
Complaint to FTC
If your carriers are not able to effectively block spam calls you can also raise a complaint to FTC. While this is not perfect as they don’t have the resources to check on every complaint, if enough people report on spam calls, they do take actions. In the past, FTC has closed down two biggest spam calling companies which shows that consumer’s complaints are heard even if not on an individual case basis.
File a complaint here
Register for Do Not Call Registry
FTC also allows users to register for a “Do Not Call Registry” which prevents telemarketers and other service providers to make a promotional call to your number. The best part is that since this works with your phone number, it works even with feature phones and landlines. The registration takes just a few minutes and you should definitely register your number. You can do that by clicking on the link below.
Note: The website is not currently working due to government shutdown in the US. However, it will be up and running once the shutdown is over.
Block Spam Calls on iPhone
Now that we have seen some of the universal methods people can use to block spam calls, let’s see the device-specific steps you can take to block spam calls. Here are the steps you can take to block spam calls on iPhone:
1. Block Unknown Callers Using Do Not Disturb
“Do Not Disturb” is a powerful tool that comes baked into iPhone allowing users to not only focus on their current work but also block calls they don’t want to receive. My favorite thing about DND is that you can set it up in a way which allows you to block calls from all unknown numbers while allowing calls from people in your contacts to go through. This is a pretty drastic step which some of you might not want to take, however, if you are pretty sure that all important people in your life are added in your contact list, you can definitely take this step. We have already done a complete tutorial on how you can use Do Not Disturb to block calls which you can check out.
2. Block Specific Numbers on iPhone
This is a bit of a manual process, however, if none of the steps you take are blocking spam calls, you can block these number individually. If you don’t know how to block individual numbers on your iPhone just open the phone app and tap the (i) icon next to the number you want to block. Now, tap on the “Block this Caller” option to block calls from that number forever.
3. Set Up Third-Party Apps to Block Spam Calls
You can also use third-party apps to block spam calls on your phone. Many of these third-party apps are pretty powerful and do a really good job at blocking the spam calls. My favorite app and probably the one you should use is called RoboKiller which has even won FTC’s Robocalls Contest. The app claims to stop more than 90% of spam calls that you are receiving and its users have attested to that statement. You will have to pay a subscription fee to keep using this app. If you want something a bit cheaper, you can check out the WideProtect Spam Call Blocker app which just asks for a one time fee. The app is really powerful and has proven itself to be a good call blocking service.
Once you have downloaded either of the apps or any other app that you trust to block spam calls, the setup process is pretty simple. Just open the Settings app on your iPhone and go to Phone -> Call Blocking and Identification and flick the toggle next to your app to allow it to block calls.
Install: RoboKiller (Free trial, $2.99/month), WideProtect Spam Call Blocker ($2.99)
Block Spam Calls on Android
1. Use Native Call Blocking Service on Your Android Device
Most of the Android devices come with their own native call blocking service and you can use them to block spam calls on your device. The most prominent and recent call blocking service is the new “Call Screening” feature on the new Pixel devices which forwards the call to Google Assistant which a robot cannot bypass. Plus, Google Assistant gives you a handy transcript of what the caller says, after which you can decide whether to answer the call or report it as spam.
Similarly, Samsung offers a “Smart Call” service which can easily identify spam calls and block them. It also gives users the power to report calls as spam so that they are not disturbed by the same spammers in the future. The Smart Call function basically lets users know who’s calling when the number isn’t on their contact list. When it’s spam, users can easily block the call, and then take action by reporting it. It’s a pretty cool feature.
2. Individually Block Spam Calls
Just like on iPhone, Android users can also block individual spam calls if no other service can block it automatically for them. Different manufacturer hides this feature in different places, that said, most of them allow you to block calls by opening the Phone app and then tapping on the (i) button next to a number. It’s easy and you can do it in seconds. It is a bit of labor-intensive, however, in the long run, it will stop almost all the spam calls and you will live a spam call free life.
3. Use Third-Party Apps
There are various third-party apps on the Play Store which allow users to screen and block spam calls. The most popular and reliable of these call blocking services is the Truecaller app which not only blocks spam calls and lets you report it but also identifies any unknown numbers which are not in your contact list. The app is free to download and use and while it also offers in-app purchases, that has nothing to do with spam call blocking and only brings extra features such as call recording, ad removal, and more. So, basically, you can use it for spam protection just as a free app. If you don’t want to use Truecaller for any reason, there are various other Truecaller alternatives that you can check out.
Another favorite spam call blocking app of mine is the “Should I Answer?” which offers a solid call blocking experience. You can set different levels of spam protection and ask the app to automatically block the calls and not just mark them as spam. It also offers in-app purchases but I have been using the free version and it has been working fine for me. In fact, the app doesn’t even ask to buy its paid plans and it seems like the company is still figuring out its pricing policy. Anyways, you can use either of the apps to control spam calls on your phone and you should definitely try them out.
Install: Truecaller (Free, in-app purchases), Should I Answer? (Free, in-app purchases)
Make Your Life Spam Free
Spam calls are a menace which we all have to deal with and while none of the above methods can completely block all spam calls for you, you can use them to drop the spam call rates to a manageable limit. Apart from all the above methods, you should also take some precautions in sharing your number online so that there are fewer chances of your number appearing in a spam caller’s list. That’s all we have for this article, do let us know if you know about a method that has worked for you but is not mentioned here. The comments section is all yours.