If you answer the phone when an unknown number calls, robots probably love you. Nowadays, when you answer the phone, it’s likely a robocall spammer. They have a ton of nasty tricks up their sleeve, from posing as a member of the IRS to lying about your car’s warranty.
No matter what mask a robot wears, its end goal is the same: to snatch your money away. They’re shockingly successful. Research from Statista found that Americans lost $19.7 billion to scam calls in 2020.
Scammers are using more sophisticated tricks than ever before, so the issue is escalating. Tap or click here to find out why robocalls spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, we found five helpful techniques to help you put an end to robocalls.
1. Take advantage of carrier tools
The best way to stop robocalls is to look at your carrier’s resources. Each of the four major companies has tools you can use to identify, filter and prevent robocall numbers. Some carriers make you pay an extra monthly fee to activate these services, but network-level blocking is free of charge across all the carriers.
AT&T subscribers can use a free iOS and Android app called AT&T Call Protect. This lets you manually block unwanted calls. Plus, it has automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam warnings.
Other free options include:
- Scanning and blocking suspected scam calls and robocallers.
- Advance warnings of potential telemarketers or spam calls.
- Non-contacts can be sent straight to voicemail.
- Customized blocklists.
- Reporting robocalls that make it through the filters.
Want even more protection? Drop $3.99 a month, and you can try out Call Protect Plus, which includes the above features, plus:
- Alerts that tell you how likely it is an incoming call is spam.
- More details about “unknown” callers.
- Reverse number lookup.
- Customized call filter options.
If you’re a Verizon user, you need to check out its Call Filter app. So far, it has identified and blocked 300 million scammy phone numbers.
Here are features you’ll get with the free options:
- Identifying unknown numbers by name, if possible.
- Scanning and blocking suspected incoming scam calls.
- Reporting robocalls that make it through your filters.
- Reverse number lookup.
Or you can buy one of two options. Pay $2.99 per month per line or $7.99 per month for three or more lines, and you can use Call Filter Plus. This includes:
- Spam lookup gives you access to more than 100 million known spam callers from Verizon’s database.
- Blocking unknown numbers once and memorizing the numbers for the future.
- Rank callers based on robocall likelihood.
T-Mobile & Sprint
Since T-Mobile and Sprint are now one company, that means you benefit from two massive databases of known scam callers. You’ll also love T-Mobile’s anti-robocall campaign called Scam Shield, which helps all T-Mobile and Sprint subscribers. This offers the following benefits:
- All incoming calls are now automatically filtered on the network level to make sure they’re real.
- Enhanced Caller ID will display a “Scam Likely” label on phone calls that happen to make it through the filter.
- A “proxy phone number” will be given to subscribers for use in place of their own for online sign-ups and subscriptions.
- Be ID Aware, which notifies you when your private information is compromised and shows up for sale on the Dark Web.
Want to activate these features? T-Mobile customers can dial #662# on their smartphones and press the call button. You’ll need to download the Scam Shield app from the iOS App Store or Google Play for the proxy number.
2. Join the National Do Not Call Registry list
Of course, even if you activate the features above, you may still struggle with robocalls. Scammers often slip through the tracks to steal your money. According to data from market research firm Hiya, the average person who falls for a scam loses $182.
Some unfortunate souls lose as much as $500, though. Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry to make sure you don’t lose a dime. Putting your name on this list makes it illegal for telemarketers to call you.
Then again, many scammers don’t follow the rules. Registering your number isn’t a final solution. It’s just another layer of protection against unwanted calls coming from within the U.S.
Once you sign up, the Do Not Call list takes you off for-profit business call lists. It can take up to 31 days for the effects to kick in. That’s because telemarketers only update their listings periodically.
Joining is as easy as pie. Go to the website donotcall.gov and enter the landline or cellphone number you want on the list. You can also call 1-888-382-1222 from any phone you want to put on the list.
Although telemarketers should leave you alone, charities and survey-takers may still call. You may also hear from businesses you’ve bought something from or made a payment to in the last 18 months. Make sure to tell them to take you off their list firmly; they have to honor your request, although they might still try to talk you into reconsidering.
3. Get a robot lawyer
For the longest time, there was little we could do to fight robocallers. Sure, you can block their numbers, but they’re free to harass you as much as they want — or so you may think. A new app is changing the game by letting you block and even sue robocallers!
If you’re sick of robocallers wasting your time, why not head to court? Robo Revenge (also known as Do Not Pay) is a new entry into the robocall blocking scene. It automatically registers your phone number on a Do Not Call list and gives scammers a fake credit card number, so they leave you alone.
Not only that, but it also sends a dispute letter on your behalf demanding compensation. Imagine how nervous a scammer will feel when this app asks them for cold, hard cash. Tap or click here for more details on this groundbreaking app.
While this new app stands out among its competitors, many other options can help you out. Try these great apps to cut down on spam if you don’t want to get the law involved.
4. Try these popular apps to block robocalls
Is your phone still stuffed with robocalls? If the three steps above don’t solve the problem, check out these top call-blocking apps. These highly-rated apps identify the scammers reaching out and block malicious calls.
- Available on iOS and Android.
- Offers real-time protection from a growing list of robocallers, telemarketers and phone scammers.
- How it works: Nomorobo lets the phone ring once, then tries to identify the caller. If the number is on the app’s robocaller list, the app will automatically block the call for you.
Nomorobo is free to use for 14 days, but it costs $1.99 per month or $19.99 for a year after that. To sign up, you will need to list the type of phone you have — wireless or landline — and select your carrier.
- Available on iOS and Android.
- Unmasks the source behind spam calls and that unknown number.
- Copy and paste the number into the app’s search bar. Truecaller will search the unknown number to find out who it is.
- Blocks spam calls.
- It makes adding numbers to the spam list easy.
- It’s free to use. But you can upgrade to a premium, ad-free version with extra features for $2.99 per month.
With a community-based spam list from over 250 million users, it’s a great resource to avoid answering an unwanted robocall.
- Perfect for identifying calls that you want to accept and blocking calls and texts you want to avoid.
- Available for free on both Apple and Android gadgets with no ads.
- Blocks calls, blacklists unwanted phone numbers and text messages.
- Reverse phone searches incoming call information and receives spam alerts.
The app is powered by a database of hundreds of millions of phone numbers confirmed to be spam by other users.
You can also check out RoboKiller, which we tested for 30 days. There were also some entertaining moments when an answer bot intercepted telemarketing calls. Tap or click here for details on this robocall-blocking app.
5. Silence unknown callers
If your iPhone operates on iOS 13 or 14, you can check out the Silence Unknown Callers feature. This blocks phone numbers that aren’t on your contacts list. It also cuts off numbers you’ve never contacted before.
Phone calls will go through for people you’ve previously texted or for people who shared their phone numbers with you in an email. Nifty, right? Here’s how to turn on the feature.
- Go to Settings.
- Then, tap on Phone.
- Scroll down and select Silence Unknown Callers.
Now, if you get a call from an unknown number, you won’t get an annoying notification. The call is silenced and sent to your voicemail, so you’ll see it in your recent calls list. Nifty, right?
What if you’re an Android user? In that case, you can block unknown callers. Just follow these steps:
- Go to Settings.
- Then, tap on Block numbers.
- Toggle the Block unknown callers button to enable the feature.
Now, you won’t have to worry about frustrating notifications clogging up your phone screen.
Robocalls are bigger than ever
While the pandemic ground many sectors to a screeching halt, scammers are flourishing. This is probably because consumer and business use of voice calls tripled since many were at home during the pandemic. The use of voice calls increased by 184%, according to Hiya’s report.
We found some other shocking statistics you need to know. Plus, there are five specific scams to watch out for. Tap or click here for frightening details on robocalls making the rounds.