We all hate spam calls and robocalls and want to block them for good. But here’s the truth: Although the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking steps to combat this, completely blocking every spam call is not possible (yet). However, you can use different ways to reduce the number of these unwanted calls. Use this guide to learn how to do this.
What is a ‘Scam Likely’ Call?
If you’re a T-Mobile or Metro user, you may have seen the caller ID ‘Scam Likely’ for some calls. With this, your carrier is forewarning you that the call is likely a scam, spam, or robocall. If you see this, don’t pick up the phone and let it go straight to voicemail. If you pick up, assume that the person/robot on the other side is lying.
But how do you identify spam calls on other carriers? All carriers have their own set of protocols that help them identify scam calls. This is due to the STIR/SHAKEN protocol that all of the carriers use which is about spotting spam calls and robocalls.
Due to this protocol, you may see the ‘Call Verified’ label on your phone to help you know that the call isn’t spoofed and some similar labels for spam calls.
What is a Spoofed Call?
If an incoming call looks local and you also see the ‘Scam Likely’ or similar label, be attentive. Scammers use tools for call spoofing that allows them to mask their number as if it’s from your locality. This makes people pick up the phone and trust the person calling.
Many scammers use this trick to illegally call people and tell them that they are from a local authority and ask for their social security number, bank details, or other private details that could lead to identity theft or financial loss.
The phone number you see may actually be from a real person but he/she won’t have any idea that a scammer is using it to spoof calls. This is another big concern were due to spoofing, the security protocols of carriers start labeling the numbers of real people as spam.
It’s also possible that you receive a call from a scammer and the carrier fails to detect it. You may receive it as a regular call. So, if you don’t want to get scammed, be cautious whenever you see an unknown number.
What are Spam Calls and Robocalls?
Spam calls are from people trying to sell something or get some information from you. They usually call a list of numbers with or without their consent.
Robocalls are pre-recorded messages that begin when you pick up the phone. They could be from a scammer or a spammer. Scammers are fraudsters while spammers are those who call you to sell something mostly without your consent.
7 Ways How to Block Scam Likely Calls on Your iPhone and Android Phone
- Block the Scam Number
- Use ‘Do Not Disturb’
- Turn on Silence Unknown Callers on iPhone
- Use the Built-in Spam Detecting Features of Your Android Phone
- Block Spam Calls with Your Carrier’s App
- Use Third-Party Apps to Filter and Block Unwanted Calls
- Register Your Number on the National Do Not Call List
1. Block the Scam Number
Your iPhone and Android phone have the built-in feature to block numbers manually. This is helpful only if you want to block a spammer that’s calling you from the same number.
But the issue here is that most unwanted callers like to change numbers frequently. So, even if you identify and block a number, you may get a spam or scam call from a different number the very next day. Anyway, the method for blocking a number manually is below:
1.1 Block a Number on iPhone
- Navigate to the ‘Phone’ app.
- Select ‘Recents’.
- Tap the information icon ‘i’ next to the unwanted caller.
- Choose ‘Block this Caller’.
1.2 Block a Phone Number on Android
- Go to the ‘Phone’ app.
- Choose ‘Recents’.
- Tap the ‘i’ icon next to the number you want to block.
- Select ‘Block’.
2. Use ‘Do Not Disturb’
This is a feature that’s available on any version of iOS and Android. Once you turn it on and select your contacts, you’ll receive calls from people in your contacts list only.
All others will go to voicemail. This is a drastic option because, with this, you’re sure to miss some important calls. Because most of us receive legitimate calls from unknown numbers as well and using Do Not Disturb will block them too.
Use this option only if you update your contacts list frequently and you don’t mind missing some important calls in your endeavor of blocking unwanted calls.
3. Turn on Silence Unknown Callers on iPhone
iPhones (iOS 13 and higher) have the feature ‘Silence Unknown Callers’. With this, you can avoid calls from unknown numbers. These calls go straight to voicemail.
How does it work and is it the same as Do Not Disturb? We know that Do Not Disturb blocks calls from unknown numbers but the Silence Unknown Callers feature goes a step further. It blocks numbers that aren’t in your contacts list. But it allows some numbers even when they aren’t in your contacts.
For example; a number shared with you via text or email, or you texted with someone and didn’t yet save their number, or an unsaved number is in your Recent Calls list, or a number from Siri Suggestions will be allowed.
So, in many ways, it’s an upgraded Do Not Disturb feature. Again, you might still miss some important calls such as a friend calling from another number.
In case you place an emergency call, the Silence Unknown Callers feature will turn off for 24 hours so that any number can reach you.
To turn on Silence Unknown Callers on iPhone:
- Go to ‘Settings’.
- Select ‘Phone’.
- Swipe down and choose ‘Silence Unknown Callers’.
- Toggle on the feature.
4. Use the Built-in Spam Detecting Features of Your Android Phone
The stock Phone app from Google can identify spam calls. To turn it on:
- Open the ‘Phone’ app.
- Tap the three dots at the top-right corner.
- Choose ‘Settings’.
- Select ‘Call ID & spam’.
- You’ll see three options that do three different things:
- Enabling the ‘See caller ID and spam ID’ toggle will identify spam calls and let you know when they call but the call will go through.
- The other option ‘Filter spam calls’ will block spam calls completely without bothering you.
- If you turn on the ‘Verified Calls’ toggle, you may see the reason a business is calling you when the phone rings.
Moreover, Samsung and Google phones have spam call blocking features as well. In Google Pixels phones, the whole screen is red when a spam number is called (if Google or your carrier detects it). Samsung, with Hiya, provides Smart Call that detects and labels unwanted calls.
5. Block Spam Calls with Your Carrier’s App
Every carrier provides some sort of protection against spam, scam, and robocalls calls. They also provide smartphone apps with free and paid features. If you trust your carrier, use their app or pay them for additional features.
5.1 T-Mobile Scam Shield
As discussed earlier, the ‘Scam Likely’ ID you see on your T-Mobile or Metro is automatically activated for all Metro and T-Mobile customers. With Caller ID you see the name of the person calling and ‘Scam Likely’ if the caller is flagged.
Another T-Mobile service is Scam Block which blocks scam calls before they even reach you. The security protocols when identifying a call as a scam, it’s blocked. Scam Block and Scam ID are free for postpaid customers without even needing to install the app. Dial #662# to turn it on without the app and #663# to turn it off.
If you install the app on your Android or iPhone, you can turn on Scam Block from the app as well. You can also ask for a secondary phone number to share where you want the other person to contact you but you don’t want to reveal your actual phone number.
Moreover, you can also subscribe to Scam Shield Premium which provides additional call control features where you can automatically send certain categories of calls to voicemail such as telemarketing and political surveys.
5.2 AT&T Call Protect
With the Call Protect app, available for iPhones and Android devices, you can get more control over unwanted calls. You get automatic call blocking for fraudulent calls and suspected spam warning for calls from spammers.
But what if you want to block the spam calls as well? You can set the app to block calls from spammers that are by default flagged as Spam Risk or Suspected Spam.
Also, you can direct the app to send all the calls from people not in your contacts list into voicemail automatically. If you want to block a call you just received, you can tell Siri to block the last call and it’ll be blocked. These features are free for AT&T postpaid customers.
To upgrade, you can subscribe to Call Protect Plus which gives you access to the Caller ID of unknown callers and Number Lookup to find details of any US number.
You will also get a Custom Call Control option where you can block whole categories of unwanted calls like from telemarketers. These will go straight to voicemail which you can check later at your own ease.
5.3 Verizon Call Filter
Verizon users on iPhone and Android phones can use Call Filter to identify spam calls and avoid potential spams and scams. Not only does it detect spam calls and notify you, but you can also choose to block spam calls with the Spam Filter depending on the three categories of risk levels.
You can choose to allow or disallow the spam caller to leave a voicemail when the call is automatically blocked. The spam filter might block some calls falsely detected as spam. This is true for any spam blocking app you use.
You also get spam and blocked call log which you can allow, block and/or report numbers. Furthermore, with the neighborhood spoofing filter, you can block calls from the same prefix as yours, but this might block some legitimate calls as well.
If you subscribe to Call Filter Plus, you also get:
- Caller name ID for any number calling you.
- Spam Lookup gives you access to a database of spam numbers.
- Personal Block List where you block a number once and it remains blocked forever unless you unblock it.
- Spam Risk Meter that shows the spam risk level of the callers.
6. Use Third-Party Apps to Filter and Block Unwanted Calls
If you’re still not satisfied, you can turn to third-party apps to shield you against spam and scam callers. Most of these apps work similarly by keeping an updated list of spam numbers.
As new spam numbers are detected every day, the list is updated. When someone calls you, the app runs the number through its database of spam, scam, and robocalls.
If the number matches the list, it’s flagged or blocked based on your settings. However, if the number is clear, you get the call.
Moreover, these apps provide caller ID as well for quickly seeing who is calling you, from where, and their purpose of calling (if a business is calling). Some also let you access their database of spam numbers so you can look up a number. Some of these apps block robotexts as well.
Once installed third-party spam blocking app on your Android phone, it asks for permission to access your phone and calling information. Once granted, it can perform its functions.
On iPhones, you may need to navigate to Settings > Phone > Call Blocking & Identification to turn on the app that you want to monitor your calls.
We are listing down the apps suggested by the FCC and CTIA for spam call blocking that are available for both Android and iOS. Some of them are completely free, others are free with some paid features. You can search their names on Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
- Nomorobo Robocall Blocking
- YouMail Voicemail Call Blocker
- Mr. Number by Hiya
7. Register Your Number on the National Do Not Call List
The Do Not Call list is for people who don’t want to get telemarketing calls. You can register your wireless or landline by visiting the Do Not Call website. When you register your name on the registry, wait 31 days for telemarketers to remove your number from their calling lists.
Sounds too good to be true? It is. The list only covers sales calls. You may still get calls from charities, political groups, debt collectors, and surveyors. And here’s the stunner.
If you’re exhausted by spoofed calls and illegal robocalls, know that these spammers don’t care about any lists and registries. They’ll call any number. So, you need to use any protection method mentioned above.
How To Block Unwanted Calls on Landline Phones That Use the Internet (VoIP)?
- Check If Your Phone is VoIP
- Use an Internet-Based Call Blocking Service
- Check with Your Phone Provider
1. Check If Your Phone is VoIP
VoIP means Voice over Internet Protocol. A VoIP landline phone uses the internet to make calls as compared to a traditional landline phone that uses the phone lines. Check with your phone provider to know if your landline is VoIP or traditional.
2. Use an Internet-Based Call Blocking Service
Internet-based call blocking services work to block spam calls on VoIP phones. You can either search online for internet-based call blocking services or ask your phone provider to recommend a service.
3. Check with Your Phone Provider
You should also check with your phone provider if they provide a call filtering and blocking service and if they charge for it.
How To Block Spam Calls on Traditional Landline Phones?
- Install a Call Blocking Device
- Check Out the Services of Your Phone Provider
1. Install a Call Blocking Device
If you know that your phone uses traditional phone lines for calls, your best bet to stop unwanted calls is a call-blocking device. A call blocking device is a small box that you connect with your phone.
It has a directory of known spam numbers and provides the means to add a number manually as well. Some other call blocking devices depend on you to input all the numbers you want to block. These devices can flag and block spam calls. Some also show a blinking light when a spam caller rings.
Some of these devices also use a method to remove robocalls by using pre-recorded messages and instructing the caller to press a button to continue.
The features you get depend on the call blocking device you buy.
2. Check Out the Services of Your Phone Provider
For blocking spammers from calling you, check with your phone provider to know which call blocking services it provides. Some may be free while some could be paid.
Useful Tips to Avoid Spam Calls
- Don’t Pick Up Calls from Spam Numbers
- A Local Number on Your Phone Screen May Be Spoofed
- Never Give Any of Your Personal Details
- Don’t Speak or Press Any Buttons on Robocalls
- File a Complaint with the FCC and FTC
1. Don’t Pick Up Calls from Spam Numbers
If your phone, carrier, or the call blocking app identifies a number as spam, it most likely is. You can entirely ignore the call to let it go to the voicemail. If it’s only an unknown number without any spam label, be cautious.
2. A Local Number on Your Phone Screen May Be Spoofed
Scammers want you to trust them so they can easily get information from you. They mask their number for you to look like your local number. When you see a local number, you pick it up. So, next time you see a local unknown number, don’t trust the person calling you.
3. Never Give Any of Your Personal Details
Scammers may call you pretending to be from a government agency and ask you to tell them your sensitive details like bank account details, PIN numbers, and others.
Don’t give any of your information to strangers. If in doubt, hang up the phone, look up the real phone number of the department or local authority, and check if they called you.
4. Don’t Speak or Press Any Buttons on Robocalls
If a pre-recorded message or robocall tells you to press any button or say yes or no to something, don’t. Hang up immediately. They use this trick to find out live phone numbers so they can later spam or scam them.
5. File a Complaint with the FCC and FTC
If you detected a spam caller and after requesting no more calls, they keep calling you, file a complaint with the FCC. If you were a victim of fraud and want to give out information about the scammers, report fraud to the FTC.
To block spammers from calling, you can use your phone’s security options, employ your carrier’s app, or make use of third-party apps. If you ever pick up a spam call, don’t trust the caller and never give them any of your information.
Is There A Way To Block Scam Likely Calls?
Install your carrier’s scam blocking app for blocking Scam Likely Calls on your iPhone or Android phone. These are the official apps for the three major carriers:
– T-Mobile Scam Shield
– AT&T Call Protect
– Verizon Call Filter
How Do I Block All Scam Likely Calls On IPhone?
A drastic method to block all scam likely calls on iPhone is by turning on the Silence Unknown Callers feature. It blocks unknown numbers that aren’t in your contacts list. However, it allows numbers someone texted or mailed you, numbers you texted with, and Siri suggestions.
Should I Answer Scam Likely Calls?
If you’re seeing the ‘Scam Likely’ caller ID, your carrier flagged the number as spam and there is a high probability that it is. You can let it go straight to voicemail. If you answer, don’t trust the caller.
How Do I Automatically Block Scam Calls?
There are third-party apps for Android and iPhone that automatically block scam calls. Most notable scam blocking apps are Hiya, RoboKiller, Nomorobo, Truecaller, and YouMail.