Tired of Spam Calls Every Day? Here's How to Stop Them (2022)

The majority of calls I receive on my phone aren't from my friends and family or coworkers. No, instead they're from scammers and telemarketers, notifying me that I've "won the lottery" or simply pretending to be the IRS and threatening me to pay up.

It's why I don't pick up any phone numbers I don't easily recognize, even if it might actually be important, because I'm scarred from the sheer amount of spam calls I get every single day.

This year alone,Americans are expected to get over 52 billion robocalls, which breaks down to approximately 1 billion calls every week, according to YouMail, a company that specializes in blocking them.

And these calls come in all shapes and sizes. You're likely familiar with the good ol' "scam likely" calls, but there are also more sophisticated attacks, that involve spoofing local numbers and those of popular companies, to convince you to give up your personal information and cash. More recently, these attacks have moved over to SMS, where there arephishing text messages that come from your own phone number.

No matter what the calls say, one thing is certain -- they need to stop.

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Last year, the Federal Communications Commission aimed to wrangle the robocall problem by requiring major wireless carriers to start using Stir/Shaken technology. Stir/Shaken verifies all incoming and outgoing calls for wireless carriers that are routed through their networks. By verifying each call, carriers can reduce the number of fake or spoofed calls. But it only stops robocalls on one avenue -- it's not the be-all and end-all. You may still get spam calls for free trips or fake notices that your student loan payment is overdue.

Read more: CNET's Interview With FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel

You can read more about Stir/Shaken here. As the FCC continues its crusade, keep reading this story for things you can do to help curb the number of times your phone rings throughout the day with calls from potential fraudsters.

(Video) How to block spam calls

How to keep annoying robocalls at a minimum

According to the FCC, there are some easy steps you can take to help reduce robocalls:

  • Don't answer calls from blocked or unknown numbers.
  • Don't answer calls from numbers you don't recognize.
  • Don't assume an incoming call is really from a local number just because it looks like it is.
  • Don't respond to any questions that can be answered with a "Yes."
  • If someone calls you and claims to be with XYZ company, hang up and call the company yourself. Use the company's website to find an official number.
  • If you do answer a call and hear a recording such as, "Hello, can you hear me?" just hang up.
  • The same goes for a call where you're asked to press a number before being connected to a representative.

When you answer a call and interact with the voice prompt or by pressing a number, it lets spammers know your number is real. They can then sell your number to another company or begin targeting your number more frequently.

When it first launched, Google's Call Screen feature arguably went against the FCC's advice by answering and interacting with the robocall on your behalf. However, Google added new features to Call Screenfor its Pixel phone lineup. The feature can now detect robocalls and spam calls and block them before they reach you. Google Assistant will interact with the caller, and if it determines that the call is legitimate, it will route the call to your phone.

Apple's iPhonehas an option toSilence Unknown Callers, which adds the option to route calls from numbers not found in your Contacts, Mail or Messages straight to voicemail. Any legitimate callers can leave a message. But that's the rub: We often receive important calls from numbers we don't store on our phones, like a doctor's office or a repairman, so you could miss important calls this way. But if all else fails and you're desperate to stop robocalls, this is a valid option.

If you find yourself receiving a lot of spam text messages, you canforward the message to the number 7726 (which spells "spam"). It won't stop the number from texting you right away, but it will allow your carrier to look into where it came from and put an end to it.

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Tired of Spam Calls Every Day? Here's How to Stop Them (1)

Check with your wireless carrier

All four major wireless carriers offer some sort of call-blocking feature. All have a free option and a premium tier. But let's be frank, all robocall-blocking services should be free. This shouldn't be a way for carriers to make some money off of us.

  • AT&T ActiveArmor is available for iOS and Android. The free version blocks spam and fraud calls and provides nuisance warning labels and a personal block list, and you can block all unknown callers. AT&T ActiveArmor Advanced runs $4 per month per line, with additional benefits of caller ID for unknown numbers, reverse number lookup, identity monitoring and public Wi-Fi protection.
  • Verizon's Call Filter app is automatically enabled for Android users on a postpaid plan. The service offers spam detection, a spam filter, a call log for blocked or spam calls, the ability to allow calls from specific numbers (iOS only) and the option to report numbers for free. You can pay $3 per month (or $8 per month for three or more lines of service) for caller ID, spam lookup, a personal block list and a spam risk meter. Call Filter is built into most Android devices out of the box (you've probably been prompted about it if you have an Android phone) but is also available in theApp Store for iOS users.
  • T-Mobile's Scam Shieldis free to all customers and includes multiple features designed to protect you from robocalls and sharing your personal information. Dial #662# from your phone to turn on Scam Block, or download the free Scam Shield app in your phone's respective app store. With Scam Shield enabled, you'll get full caller ID, scam reporting, scam blocking before your phone ever rings and the option to mark numbers as favorites so they still ring your phone.

Use a different wireless carrier? I suggest calling its customer support or visiting its website to see if it offers a similar service.

Tired of Spam Calls Every Day? Here's How to Stop Them (2)

Use a third-party app to limit the number of robocalls you get

If your provider doesn't offer an app or service to cut back on robocalls, or does but it's too expensive, there are plenty of third-party apps available. You want to find an app that works on your device, offers automatic call blocking and spam alerts for suspicious calls and makes it easy to report a number if a call slips through.

Hiya is a free app I have used on Android and iOS for some time now with success. It's from the same company that powers AT&T's ActiveArmor app, as well as Samsung's built-in call block and spam protection service. Samsung Galaxy owners can enable the built-in service in the Phone app under Settings > Caller ID and Spam Protection. Setup is painless, and it offers an easy way to report a number.

Nomorobo is the service that Verizon uses for its Fios users, but it also has a phone app. The service is free for VoIP users and costs $2 per month for mobile users. Additional services with similar capabilities include YouMail and RoboKiller.

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Tired of Spam Calls Every Day? Here's How to Stop Them (3)

The Firewall app is only available on the iPhone and does a fantastic job of blocking calls. In the event you need to make a call that you'd rather not use your real phone number for, the $4-a-month subscription provides unlimited single-use fake phone numbers.

Another option is to get a free Google Voice phone numberthat you can use to sign up for things instead of giving out your real number -- and once the robocalls start coming in on that Google Voice number, use the block feature. Just know that blocking calls may end up being a lot of work, as robocallers are constantly spoofing different phone numbers.

None of the above solutions is perfect, but they supplement your carrier's integration of technology now required to check for caller ID spoofing. So right now you have to do some extra work to keep the number of robocalls you receive to a minimum. Between being cautious about calls from unknown numbers and using a service (paid or free), you can reduce the amount of unwanted calls and spam you have to deal with.

In sum, carriers have started using Stir/Shaken technology to verify callers, which so far hasn't significantly cut down on the number of robocalls we all receive. So for those with an iPhone, learn where the setting is to block unknown callers, but remember using it could mean you miss calls from doctors' offices and the like. And for those with a Pixel phone, Google's Call Screen feature will surely help, and may even entertain you.


How do I stop 100s of spam calls? ›

The national Do Not Call list protects landline and wireless phone numbers. You can register your numbers on the national Do Not Call list at no cost by calling 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY). You must call from the phone number you wish to register. You can also register at donotcall.gov.

Why do I keep getting spam calls every day? ›

The main reason people are getting more spam calls is the sales spammers make through these calls are worth their while.

How can I stop spam calls on my mobile? ›

You can mark all calls from a number as spam to stop getting more calls from them and to report the spammer.
  1. On your device, open the Phone app .
  2. At the bottom, tap Recents .
  3. Tap the call that you want to report as spam.
  4. Tap Block or report spam.

Is it better to decline or not answer spam calls? ›

If you receive a spam robocall, the best thing to do is not answer. If you answer the call, your number is considered 'good' by the scammers, even if you don't necessarily fall for the scam. They will try again because they know someone on the other side is a potential victim of fraud.

Why am I getting so many spam calls all of a sudden 2022? ›

Why am I getting spam calls all of a sudden? Usually, it's because your number has been sold in a group list of phone numbers to other scammers. Remember, you can always report spam calls to the Better Business Bureau and also the Federal Trade Commission.

Does * 61 block unwanted calls? ›

Block calls from your phone

Receive an unwanted call? Press *61 to add the last call received to your call block list. Press *80 to turn call blocking off. Press *60 to turn call blocking back on.

What numbers should you not answer? ›

With that in mind, the Federal Trade Commission says you should never call back numbers in these area codes:
  • 268: Antigua and Barbuda.
  • 284: British Virgin Islands.
  • 473: Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
  • 664: Montserrat.
  • 649: Turks and Caicos Islands.
  • 767: Commonwealth of Dominica.
  • 809, 829, 849: Dominican Republic.
6 Apr 2022

What happens if you call back a spam number? ›

“It's a telephone scam technique where your phone rings once and then stops, in hopes that you will call the number back. If you do call back, it goes to a high-cost international number, meaning you will be charged for that call, and the scammer will make money.”

What is the point of spam calls that hang up? ›

Robocalls that hang up immediately are usually meant to verify your number. It means that the machine wants to confirm that the number is active and that a real person answered the phone.

How do I stop spam calls automatically? ›

On your device, open the Phone app . Spam and Call Screen. Turn See caller & spam ID on or off. Optional: To block spam calls on your phone, turn on "Filter spam calls." You don't get missed call or voicemail notifications, but filtered calls are in your call history, and you can check your voicemail.

How do I stop spam calls on my Android phone? ›

Open the Phone app. Tap on the three dots in the top-right corner and tap Settings. In the Assistive section, tap Caller ID & Spam. Toggle on Filter spam calls to start blocking spam calls automatically.

How do I permanently block a number from calling me? ›

How to Block Calls on an Android Smartphone - YouTube

Does blocking spam calls do any good? ›

Call blocking can help stop robocalls from scammers. But some robocalls might still get through. If you get an illegal robocall, hang up. Don't press a number, which could lead to more robocalls.

Can I decline spam calls? ›

Android: Open the Phone app, and then tap the three-dot icon in the top-right corner > Settings > Blocked numbers. Enable the Block calls from unidentified callers option. (Google Pixel owners also have access to Call Screen, which can automatically decline some robocalls.)

Does 662 block spam calls? ›

You can always turn on Scam Block without the Scam Shield app. To do so, dial #662# from your T-Mobile phone. To disable it, just dial #632#.

How does * 77 work? ›

Anonymous Call Rejection (*77) stops calls from people that use a blocking feature to keep their name or number from being displayed. When Anonymous Call Rejection is turned on, callers will hear a message telling them to hang up, turn off the blocking feature, and call again.

What does * 002 * mean? ›

##002# - If your voice call or data call, or SMS call has been forwarded, dialling this USSD code will erase them. *#21# - By dialling this USSD code, you would get to know if your calls have been diverted somewhere else or not.

What does * 87 do on a cell phone? ›

To deactivate, dial *87. Block your name and number from appearing on caller ID. Outgoing calls will be displayed as Private, Anonymous or Unavailable.

How do spammers get my cell phone number? ›

Social media, web search, and directories on the web

Phone numbers are spread across many social media platforms, websites, and phone directories around the Internet. To glean phone numbers from the web, fraudsters use various techniques, such as web-scraping.

Why do unknown numbers keep calling me? ›

Often times, the databases your phone number is entered into are open to thieves and scammers. Unfortunately, advances in technology have enabled scammers to access phone numbers more easily and they can make illegal calls from anywhere in the world.

Should you pick up unknown numbers? ›

If you answer a call from an unknown number, hang up immediately. If you answer the phone and the caller or recording asks you to select a button or number to stop receiving the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.

How do I block unknown callers? ›

Block unknown numbers
  1. Open your Phone app .
  2. Tap More .
  3. Tap Settings. Blocked numbers.
  4. Turn on Unknown.

Why are people calling me back saying I called them? ›

If you get calls from people saying your number is showing up on their caller ID, it's likely that your number has been spoofed. We suggest first that you do not answer any calls from unknown numbers, but if you do, explain that your telephone number is being spoofed and that you did not actually make any calls.

Is it safe to text back an unknown number? ›

Yes, some scammers are posing as people who have texted the wrong number. Experts recommend you don't respond to texts from strangers — if nothing else, a scammer will know your phone number is active when you reply.

Can a scammer access my phone? ›

Scammers use auto-dialers and spoofed area codes to trick people into picking up the phone. From there, it's a numbers game. The scammers want to get as much personal information from the call recipient as possible. That can include anything from names and birth dates to credit card numbers.

Does 662 block spam calls? ›

You can always turn on Scam Block without the Scam Shield app. To do so, dial #662# from your T-Mobile phone. To disable it, just dial #632#.

How do I stop spam calls on my Iphone? ›

Block voice calls, FaceTime calls, and messages from certain people
  1. Tap Favorites, Recents, or Voicemail. Tap. next to the number or contact you want to block, scroll down, then tap Block this Caller.
  2. Tap Contacts, tap the contact you want to block, scroll down, then tap Block this Caller.

How do I stop robo calls on my Iphone? ›

To turn on Silence Unknown Callers, go to Settings > Phone, then scroll down, tap Silence Unknown Callers, and turn on the feature. Calls from unknown numbers are silenced and sent to your voicemail, and appear in your recent calls list.

Why do random numbers keep calling me and hanging up? ›

Many robocalls that hang up come from scammers that gather numbers and sell them for thousands of dollars to other companies. If you received one or more silent robocalls, you should be careful with all future calls that offer something or make unusual demands.

What happens if you dial *# 31? ›

If you want to hide the caller ID dial *31# and press call button. This code allows you to check which number your phone is currently forwarding calls to when you're busy or reject a call.

What does the *# 21 mean? ›

We rate the claim that dialing *#21# on an iPhone or Android device reveals if a phone has been tapped FALSE because it is not supported by our research.

What number do I dial to block spam calls? ›

And, if you ever want to turn off scam block, just dial #632# in the keypad of the Phone app.
Block Calls From “Scam Likely” On T-Mobile.
Scam Block Codes For iPhone and Android
Check If Scam Block Is On#787#
Turn Off Scam Block#632#
1 more row
13 Jul 2020

How do I block unknown numbers automatically? ›

Block unknown numbers
  1. Open your Phone app .
  2. Tap More .
  3. Tap Settings. Blocked numbers.
  4. Turn on Unknown.

How do I block calls without blocking? ›

For that, open your phone app and tap on the 'menu overflow button' (three dots) in the top right corner of the screen (generally for Android devices, for other devices, it is different). Then tap on the Settings and click on Calls. Within the calls menu, click on the 'call barring' option.

How do I stop receiving calls on my iPhone without blocking them? ›

Here are a few options to stop receiving calls without blocking a caller.
  1. Use a silent ringtone. One way to prevent calls from someone without blocking the caller is to set a silent ringtone on your phone. ...
  2. Turn on “Do Not Disturb” mode. ...
  3. Set up “Call Forwarding” ...
  4. Turn on airplane mode.

Is there a totally free spam blocker? ›

SPAMfighter Standard is a free Spam Blocker tool that works for both Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird that automatically and efficiently blocks spam and phishing fraud.

What happens if you call back a spam number? ›

“It's a telephone scam technique where your phone rings once and then stops, in hopes that you will call the number back. If you do call back, it goes to a high-cost international number, meaning you will be charged for that call, and the scammer will make money.”

Why do telemarketers call and not say anything? ›

That initial call you get, with silence on the other end, "[is] essentially the first of the reconnaissance calls that these fraudsters do," Balasubramaniyan says. "They're trying to see: Are they getting a human on the other end? You even cough and it knows you're there."


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