The phone rings, and as soon as you say hello, the person on the other end starts babbling about saving money on car insurance. Don’t say anything! They could be recording your voice, which they’ll use to impersonate you. If you do speak up, avoid saying this one word.
When it comes to telemarketing and scam calls, the best thing to do is not pick up the phone. But it’s not always easy to tell whether an incoming call is legitimate.
You want to stop these calls before they happen. There are many ways to do this, and we’ll cover a few methods below.
Block calls from your smartphone
Your phone has built-in security tools to protect you from scammers, and you should get to know one of the most basic: the block function.
If you get a call from a number you know is connected to a scammer or telemarketer, block it. You can do this as many times as you need to. Here’s how:
Block calls from your iPhone
- Open the Phone app and tap the info button next to the number you want to block. (NOTE: The info button is a lowercase (i) inside a circle.)
- Scroll down and tap Block this Caller.
Block calls from your Android phone
- Open your Phone app.
- Tap More > Call history.
- Tap a call from the number you want to block.
- Tap Block / report spam.
What about those unknown numbers? You should be careful when getting these calls, too. Luckily, you can silence them, so they don’t put you at risk. The calls will still be listed in your recent list, and you’ll get voicemails if those callers leave one.
NOTE: Silencing unknown callers could silence calls you may want to receive, such as from a doctor’s office, hospital and other important calls from numbers that are not in your contacts. But if the call is important, they will leave a voicemail.
Silence unknown numbers from your iPhone
- Go to Settings > Phone > Silence Unknown Callers.
- Toggle on Silence Unknown Callers.
Silence unknown numbers from your Android
- Tap the Phone icon and select the three-dot menu.
- Go to Settings > Blocked Numbers.
- Toggle on Block Calls From Unidentified Callers.
Your wireless carrier can help avoid spam messages. Some have advanced caller ID that lets you know when a possible spam text reaches you. Some carriers provide an app with more powerful tools to block unwanted calls and texts.
Examples include AT&T Call Protect, Verizon Call Filter and our sponsor T-Mobile offers Scam Shield. Check your service provider’s website or call them to learn more about their services.
T-Mobile customers have access to Scam Shield, which blocks billions of scam calls yearly. It includes free tools to protect customers, such as Scam Likely Warnings and Scam Block, which stops Scam Likely calls at the network level.
Though unexpected calls from outside the U.S. are big red flags to watch out for, scammers can trick you into thinking they are calling locally. Tap or click here for tips on spotting this trick and a list of area codes to avoid.
Nomorobo is a third-party app that offers real-time protection from robocalls, telemarketers, spam texts, and phone scammers from calling your iOS or Android phone. It lets the phone ring once and then attempts to identify the caller. If the number is found on the app’s robocaller list, it will automatically be blocked.The app lets robocalls such as school closings and weather alerts get through. Nomorobo has a free 14-day trial, after which it costs $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. The app is available for iOS and Android.
The Do Not Call registry
One of the best ways to combat unsolicited calls is to add your number to the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry. Adding your number to the list doesn’t cost anything, and its purpose is to stop sales calls, though scammers don’t care about rules or laws.
Still, it helps to slow down those telemarketers. Go to donotcall.gov to add your number (you can add multiple numbers to the list).
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