Spam calls: how to stop the robots from calling your iPhone or Android

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Mobile spam calls have been a nuisance for years, but in recent months, I think there has been a surge of them. I receive between four and six calls a day, and a quick survey of friends shows that I am not alone. Each day that passes brings a new bombardment. Robocallers have improved their game by masking their junk mail with local and genuine-looking phone numbers. Sometimes your nonsense is funny, like when you receive a threatening voice message about your imminent arrest due to back taxes, but most of the time it is an unwanted distraction. It is very easy for these scammers to exercise the power of the Internet and launch innumerable calls with ease. And once even a few people fall for a scam, they have made enough profits to cover their trivial expenses.
The robocalls have become so irritating that the Federal Trade Commission received more than 375,000 complaints about them each month last year. The agency routinely says that it is doing everything possible to take charge of the situation, and yes, occasionally there are important repressive measures. But feedback from the real world indicates that things are getting worse, not improving, and it's starting to feel a bit out of control.
So, if you're as sick as I am about getting a vibrating phone out of your pocket just to see a randomly suspect number, let's review the options to fight and restore the sense of peace.
First, I will review some definitions, since operators make important distinctions between these calls, even if they are not welcome and are annoying. This is how Verizon looks at things:

Robocallers: automated pre-recorded telephone messages

Spammers: Unwanted callers who may be indiscriminately calling a large number of recipients; sometimes it includes the people to whom you have consented to contact him

Fraud calls: an entity that is likely to be someone who has no malicious intent

Option A: block individual numbers one by one
This is probably an effort without hope if you intend to completely eradicate the automatic calls, but if there is a particular number that keeps calling, it is quite easy to block it forever from your iPhone or Android phone.
In iOS, just go to the Phone application, then to Recent, and tap the blue information icon to the right of the number you want to block.
For Android, the process is not very different: go to the Recent section of the Phone application, press and hold the annoying number and choose block. On some Android phones, you will also have the option to report the number as spam.
Again, this will require a lot of persistent work on your part to keep spammers away, and it is useless against blocked or private users.

Option B: Entrust (or pay) your provider to protect it
Most major mobile service providers have taken steps to insert themselves as a barrier between you and these annoying callers. Unfortunately, two of them make you pay an additional monthly fee for your effort.
AT & T: Call Protect Available for free to all postpaid customers. Not available in prepaid lines.

AT & T has a free application, Call Protect, which is designed to prevent some fraudulent calls from being stolen from reaching you, and you will not have to do anything other than install the software on your phone. However, it will not completely block spam or telemarketing calls; instead, Call Protect will identify callers as "Suspected Spam" when the phone rings and will give you the option to block your number in the future. Users can also manually block any number they wish and report the numbers to help improve the database.
The important caveats to know are that Call Protect is only available to postpaid customers; Prepaid customers can not use it at all. And the "I suspect spam" function only works in areas with HD voice coverage of AT & T. In addition, the application can not block unknown calls completely.
Download for iPhone | Download for Android
Sprint: Premium caller ID ($ 2.99 / month)
If you are willing to add an additional charge to your monthly bill, the Sprint Premium Calling Identification will identify the people who call spam and anyone who is not on your contact list. It signals automatic calls and spammers and assigns a "threat level" to give you an indication of how suspicious the call might be.
But despite costing a premium, the Sprint solution does not automatically block anything. You can block future calls from a number or report it, but the best thing that Premium Call ID will do is make it clear that you should not respond. It will not stop the ringing of your phone, and all you need is for someone to dial * 67 before your number to avoid it and to appear as "Blocked" on your caller ID. Here is a frequent question about the function.
T-Mobile: Scam ID and Scam Block Available for free for all postpaid customers.

T-Mobile includes two levels of network level protection against robocallers, and both are free. Scam ID will identify known annoying calls when your phone rings. It does it automatically without having to install or register at all.
You have the option to enable Scam Block to prevent those calls from appearing in the first place. To activate Scam Block, dial # ONB # (# 662 #) from your T-Mobile phone. To deactivate it, simply dial # OFB # (# 632 #). Like the AT & T tool, T-Mobile will only avoid known fraudsters and fraudulent calls. Telemarketers and spam calls will still be transmitted.
There is also a third option, but it is another that costs extra money. For $ 4 per month, you can subscribe to the T-Mobile name identification service. You can "identify the name and location of any caller and block any personal number, even if it is not in your address book." It also identifies organizations such as telemarketers, political organizations and pollsters. Name identification is included for free if you have a T-Mobile One Plus plan.
Verizon Wireless: Identification of the caller's name ($ 2.99 per month)

At no charge, you can block up to five phone numbers you wish to avoid so they can contact you. However, the blocks expire after 90 days and are not very useful against robocallers with numbers that change every day.
If you really want to fight spammers, you will have to pay for the identification of the caller's name, which identifies suspicious calls and allows you to block those numbers in the future or report them. A free 10-day trial is available to help you decide if it is worth paying the additional monthly fee.

Option C: protect yourself with third-party applications
There are a number of services such as Nomorobo, RoboKiller, Hiya and others designed to prevent automatic calls from always ringing on your phone. Most of them require a monthly (or annual) subscription. In essence, these services are based on a constantly updated list of robocallers, spammers and fraudsters and use that database to stop annoying calls. (When I say constantly updating, I mean they are identifying thousands of bad numbers every day). Enter a call and the service runs against that huge list of scam numbers. If it finds a match, the incoming call closes before it arrives.
All of them allow you to keep your own blacklist of numbers that could bother you and list those you want to pass. Some work by downloading a dedicated contact list, separate from your usual contacts, to your phone. But both iOS and Android have recently given these services more room to maneuver to take control of their phone's application and prevent cheaters from reaching it. On iPhone, you'll have to enable them in the configuration application and give them caller ID permissions before they can start working. Apple shows you how to do it step by step here.
I recommend examining each of these services to see which one you like the most. All of them are widely reviewed by customers, and all offer free trials to start. One of these will be, ultimately, what you need to fight against robocalls. It's just a matter of finding your favorite.

Nomorobo: 14 day free trial. After that, $ 1.99 / month or $ 19.99 / year
Download for iPhone | Download for Android

RoboKiller: 7-day free trial. After that, $ 2.99 / month or $ 24.99 / year
Download for iPhone | Reaching Android sometime in March

Hiya: Free. Hiya partners with Samsung, AT & T and T-Mobile to provide its spam identification services and also has independent applications.
Download for iPhone | Download for Android
Download for iPhone | Download for Android

Option D: Buy a Samsung or Google phone that automatically identifies spam callers
Samsung's recent Galaxy S and Note smart phones automatically mark suspects calling spam in the phone application. The same goes for Google Pixel and Pixel 2, which turn the whole screen into red as an easy visual reference every time a known spammer marks it. Their systems are not perfect; My Pixel 2 XL is still tricked by many numbers that look like local calls. Speaking of which …

Nuclear Option: Use Do Not Disturb to allow only calls from your contacts
In both Android and iOS, you can configure the Do Not Disturb mode of each operating system to allow phone calls only to those people and companies in your contact list. This is a quite drastic and forceful solution to the problem of automated calls, and you will surely lose calls that you would have liked to answer. But those calls will go to voicemail, and then you can add that number to your contacts for the future. However, I would only recommend this option if you are completely fed up, and only if you are very good and meticulous to keep contacts updated.
Why do more and more spam calls seem to come from a local number?
It's super annoying, is not it? It's a trick called neighborhood spoofing, and RoboKiller explains it well here. In summary, scammers believe that a number that matches your area code (and maybe even the first digits of your own number) will trick your brain and make it more likely to respond. And it makes his deception feel even more nefarious. What happens if it is a family emergency? Maybe it's your doctor's office or pharmacy?
Fortunately, robocall blocking applications have improved when detecting spoofing in the neighborhood. RoboKiller says he has been good at doing it from the beginning, and Nomorobo recently made neighborhood impersonation a big focus of his "version 2" release in December.

Tip: Do not forget to add yourself to the Do Not Call Registry
In theory, telemarketers are supposed to be complying with the National Do Not Call Registry. You can add yourself to the list by visiting www.donotcall.gov. The FTC says it must allow 31 days for legitimate telemarketing sales calls to cease. Once you have registered, your presence in the Do Not Call record never expires or expires, contrary to some recent rumors. There is no reason to renew or re-add your number to the list.
The Do Not Call Registry only covers sales calls. Charities, political groups, debt collectors and surveys can still call you once you have registered. The same applies to companies with which you may have recently done business. (You may be able to stop this specific case by verbally telling him to stop calling him). Unfortunately, scammers / robocallers do not pay attention to the DNC Registry and just ignore the whole thing. The robots do not respond to anyone, which will make you return to one of the previous solutions in this article.

Suggestion: never let the robots know that you are a real human
As tempting as it seems to curse a robocaller or a scammer, the best thing to do is leave them unsure about whether they connected with a real person. Do not say anything Do not press the buttons, even if the robotic voice says that doing so will prevent future calls. Do not trust or trust the voice of the robot. Or, let it go through voicemail or hang up immediately if you picked it up by mistake.

Tip: Complain to the FTC … probably in vain
When all else fails and you are consumed by despair and anger at endless interruptions, you can always inform callers to the Federal Trade Commission. They will not pursue each individual complaint, but it is certainly important to keep the commission aware of the magnitude of this problem. And as I said before, sometimes the FTC really eliminates some of these scammers.
If you have a method to eliminate automated calls that I have not listed here, definitely share it in the comments. It is very disappointing for me that two of the major operators in the United States charge additional fees to their customers just to help keep unwanted calls under control. You are already giving them a lot of money every month.

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