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Security & Privacy

Trick robocallers with a fake phone number

There isn’t much more that needs to be said about robocalls — other than that they are terrible! And yet today, people across the country can attest to being harassed by automatic calls at least once each and every day. It’s such an epidemic, in fact, that the federal government is stepping in and attempting to clamp down on one of the worst digital epidemics in history.

But now, we don’t have to wait for the government or phone companies to save us anymore! A new app has been released that puts the power to block unfamiliar calls right inside our phones. With one program, now you can automatically block robocalls, filter spam, and even redirect unknown calls to a fake number. Plus, you can see what calls you might have missed and whitelist them — making it easy to build a comprehensive privacy defense on your own time.

We’ll go over some of the apps best features, as well as how you can download it to your own device. There’s never been a better time to let your calls go straight to voicemail!

How does Firewall block robocalls?

Firewall is an app developed by the makers of Burner — a program that lets users create alternative phone numbers to protect their privacy. While Burner is available on both iOS and Android, Firewall is currently an exclusive for iOS users.

Just like Burner, Firewall works by generating a fake number that the app ties to your smartphone. This number is then used to route calls while disguising your true number in the event that you’re added to a list or redirected. People who call you won’t know that they’re being redirected, but if they’re not on the whitelist, the calls will automatically be blocked and screened for you to review.

A cool feature of the program is its ability to automatically import your contacts into the whitelist — which can save you hours of trouble compared to similar call blocking apps. On top of that, you also have access to a voicemail and call history page that lets you review the calls you’ve received in the event that you want to whitelist them.

You can even dial out to other numbers anonymously using the app’s built-in keypad. As with receiving calls, your outbound calls are routed using the fake number the app generates for you.

How can I get Firewall on my iPhone?

Currently, Firewall costs $3.99 per month to activate and run, but the app is offering a free two week trial for undecided users. This trial is commitment free — meaning that if you cancel at any point before the period expires, you won’t be charged the monthly fee. Not a bad way to see how well this program fits into your digital life.

 

Related: Robocallers are stooping to an all-time low by attacking hospitals

 

There are some factors to note about Firewall, however. Looking through the privacy policy, it does seem like the app collects some data from you, such as device information and call metadata.

This is apparently used in order to more effectively calibrate the app for future releases, as well as enhance the user experience — but those are common claims for apps that utilize user data in any form. Still, it doesn’t appear to be overly data hungry, and the data it uses seems to stay with the app itself rather than being sent to third parties. Compared to many other apps, that’s a plus!

Regardless of the app’s proclivity for data, however, I can report that the app successfully blocked several calls in my week of using it. Because my notifications were disabled (as a personal preference) I did have to check the app manually to see what I missed.

Thankfully, the app cleanly lays out your call history and transcribes voice messages so you can easily find out if you missed a call from somewhere important (like the pharmacy, or the dentist).

Ultimately, the application works. It’s just a matter of whether or not you feel comfortable giving its developers access to some of your personal information. Still, being able to fight back against robocallers with your own power is a good feeling. When you open the app up and see a history of blocked spam calls, there’s nothing else that’s quite as satisfying.

You can download Firewall for free at the Apple App Store. 

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