How to stop those pesky, disruptive spam calls

Americans receive billions of robocalls every month and it is only getting worse

Americans receive 4.6 billion robocalls, texts per mont

If you are sick of aggressive robocalls trying to fraudulently sell you an extended car warranty you are not alone.

Spam calls in the United States have spiraled out of control with billions of robocalls being made to American cellphones every month.

In February alone, robocalls in the US spiked to more than 4.6bn, which was a 15.1 per cent increase from January. They reached 4.9bn in March.

On average we are all getting more than 15 robocalls each and every month and they are set to reach a total of more than 51bn in 2021, a significant increase from 2020, according to YouMail’s Robocall Index.

These kind of annoying spam calls have always existed, but they have dramatically increased in recent years because of technological developments. 

Using Voice over Internet Protocol, a single computer can make thousands of calls an hour.

The systems can also spoof Caller ID, by showing up on your phone with a legitimate number that makes it possible for them to get around number-blocking lists.

Earlier this month the FCC announced that by 28 September it will require phone companies to refuse to accept traffic not listed in the Robocall Mitigation Database, which verifies the call is coming from the caller’s actual phone number.

So what can you do to prevent spam calls in the US?

The government has issued a string of guidance on how best to deal with scam calls, which starts with not answering calls from unknown numbers, not answering questions, especially those which require a “yes” answer, and never giving out personal information. 

There also some actions that people can take to try and block unwanted spam calls.

National Do Not Call list

You can add your phone number to the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry, which will stop legitimate businesses from calling, but not scammers or all robocalls.

Carrier’s spam and call blocking apps

Cell phone carriers can block spam without the user having do anything, but they also provide apps to slow down spam calls, although it is unclear how effective they really are.

AT&T Call Protect has a free and paid plan for call blocking, T-Mobile Scam Shield blocks calls or labels them as spam for free, as well as having a premium version, and Verizon Call Filter has a free and paid blocking feature.

Third Party apps

There are also a number of third-party call-blocking apps, most of which require a paid subscription.

Silencing unknown calls

On most phones users can now silence any number that is not contained within their contacts and send it directly to voicemail. The call will show upon in the phone’s missed calls log and the voicemail will be stored in the normal place, but it will apply to any and all calls from unknown numbers, regardless of where they are being made from or who is calling.

On iPhone

Go to Settings > Phone. Scroll down and select Silence Unknown Callers.

On Android

Go to Settings. Tap on Block numbers. Toggle “Block unknown numbers” button to on to enable feature.

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