When the phone rings, there’s a 50/50 chance that it could be a robocall. For some people, it’s even worse. This is especially true if you live in one of the states that get the most robocalls, such as Georgia and Louisiana.
As lawmakers move slowly to address robocalls, many consumers are taking matters into their own hands. Let’s explore the six things you can do to stop robocalls.
1. Block Unwanted Calls via Your iPhone or Android
This method of call blocking relies upon your mobile device itself to address unwanted phone calls one at a time. Each cell phone is a little different, but the feature is typically available from your recent calls list. Simply tap through to the menu with the option to block the phone number.
Advantages: Taking decisive action against unwanted phone calls is satisfying. Since this method blocks numbers one at a time, it’s especially helpful in situations when you want to stop calls from a specific person or phone number.
Disadvantages: When trying to fight back against spammers, blocking numbers one at a time can feel like you’re trying to empty the ocean one teaspoon at a time. Because spammers can quickly change their outgoing phone number, it’s a near certainty that they’ll always be one step ahead of you.
2. Do Not Call Registry
The National Do Not Call Registry was once the gold standard in stopping unwanted phone calls. Established in 2003, it provided guidelines for the types of calls that are permitted. Those who didn’t want to receive calls could add their names to the list.
Advantages: Adding your phone number to the registry may help reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive. In particular, law-abiding telemarketers will exclude you from their robocalls.
Disadvantages: There are several reasons why the Do Not Call List is ineffective. First, there are loopholes that allow calls about politics, surveys, charities, and more. There are also legitimate businesses that break the law by simply ignoring the Do Not Call list. Lastly, the Do Not Call list doesn’t protect consumers from scammers who are already operating outside of the law. These malicious parties are committing telephone fraud, and they won’t be stopped by your preference not to be called.
3. Report Spammers to the FTC
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is one of the governing agencies that’s responsible for unwanted phone calls. The FTC’s Online Complaint Assistant has an entire category for reporting robocalls and telemarketers.
Advantages: An FTC report may be used by the agency to pursue investigations into spam numbers or shared with partner law enforcement agencies. It can also provide information that can help identify patterns and trends.
Disadvantages: Reporting an unwanted call isn’t a guarantee that the agency will go after the perpetrator, making it a cumbersome process that may not yield results. That’s why in 2018, FTC complaints about robocalls decreased, even as there was an increase in spam phone calls.
4. Use a Third-party App
Add-on services for mobile phones can be a useful way to block spam calls. Popular call-blocking apps include Nomorobo, Hiya, Firewall, and RoboKiller, and prices can be up to about $4 per month.
Advantages: Each service is a little different and can have different results. This can give you the freedom to keep trying new apps until you find one that works for you.
Disadvantages: The add-ons are typically only available for mobile phones. Plus, there could be a security risk. Wired recommends searching app stores for reputable companies: “The permissions you grant to anti-robocalling apps make it an attractive cover for spyware or other malicious downloads.”
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5. Purchase Call Blocking from Your Existing Provider
Many mobile phone providers are offering add-on services that you can purchase on top of your phone plan. AT&T’s Call Protect Plus costs about $4 per month, and Verizon’s Call Filter Plus has a monthly cost of about $3 per line. There are also some free add-ons available, but you’ll need to check what tools are available for each level of service.
Advantages: Accessing call-blocking tools through your phone provider reduces the risk of a third-party solution. While interacting with traditional phone companies can be a frustrating experience, it could help you reduce robocalls.
Disadvantages: An add-on service to stop unwanted calls will further increase the cost of an already high phone bill. Plus, it’s important to review the level of customization that the tool provides. You wouldn’t want to inadvertently block an automated call from your child’s school or doctor’s office. Users should also watch out for wireless carrier fine print. For example, AT&T could continue to charge you for the add-on even if you uninstall the app.
6. Switch to a High-tech Phone Service
Home phone service through Ooma is top-rated and high-tech, offering a rich set of features for one low price. With Ooma Premier, users get customizable call blocking, unlimited calls across North America, a free mobile app, integration with smart home devices, and more. The price is just $9.99 (plus applicable taxes).
Advantages: Because Ooma gives you the control with customizable call blocking, you may stop cringing when the phone rings. You have multiple block lists with the option to automatically block anonymous callers, known spammers, suspected spammers that have been identified by Nomorobo, and specific phone numbers. You can also customize your call blocking to stop categories of callers; for example, those that have a political party in their Caller ID name. Plus, call blocking works on both your Ooma-connected home phone and the Ooma mobile app.
For each category, you can also select if you’d like the incoming call to be met with a continuous ring, a number disconnected message, a message that the call was blocked, or be sent directly to voicemail. There’s even the ultimate call blocking option that only allows callers who are on your contact list through.
Don’t forget the advantages of the phone service itself. With Ooma, you could be paying a fraction of your current home phone bill while simultaneously getting access to high-tech calling tools. Use our savings calculator to see how much you could save.
Disadvantages: We can’t think of any downsides to a top-notch phone service that costs less and helps you experience fewer unwanted phone calls.
Here’s what one customer said:
“I originally bought an Ooma Telo to save money on my monthly home phone, but the blacklisting feature is fantastic. With my old phone service, I was getting several telemarketer calls a day. My wife works from home a lot and it was driving her crazy. Now that we have our Telo, we rarely ever get a telemarketer call. When we do, we just add them to our blacklist. It’s now been more than a month since the last telemarketer called our house even though we have the exact same phone number as we did with our old service.” – Barbara
Learn more about why Ooma Telo is a smarter phone service.