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How to Block Annoying Robocalls and Spam Calls on Your Phone

We hate robocalls and spam calls, and we know you do too.

Scammers flood our phones about expired warranties, overdue taxes to the IRS or irregular activity on a credit card. They are persistent, annoying and dangerous.

But we’re here to give you a few simple ways to help slow or stop the irritating and aggressive robocalls and spam calls that you might be getting on your phone.

If you’re getting these annoying spam calls to your phone, you’re not alone — and the problem is growing worse every year. In 2020 alone, the average American received more than 28 spams calls per month, a big increase over the year before, despite the pandemic.

There are some simple and free steps you can take to slow the onslaught of spam calls hitting you every day. In addition, a few paid apps can help to significantly try to reduce the robocalls and spam calls that you receive. 


Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call list

In addition to some initial common sense steps to protect yourself from scammers, like not answering your phone from blocked numbers or numbers you don’t recognize and never giving out personal information to people you don’t trust, take a few minutes to register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry.

The Do Not Call Registry is an FTC initiative to stop unwanted telemarketing calls to landlines and mobile phones along with a mechanism to report bad actors. While this should reduce the number of calls you might receive from legitimate marketing campaigns, it won’t stop disreputable marketers or illegal scammers from dialing your number. You can also legally receive calls from pollsters, political organizations, charities and debt collectors, however we do think it’s a good first step for everyone to take.

Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry here.

Find more tips to protect yourself from phone scammers here.


Silence unknown numbers in iOS 

If your Apple device is running iOS 13 or higher, you can silence all incoming calls to your phone that aren’t in your contact list and send them straight to voicemail. This won’t completely stop the calls coming in, but it will prevent your phone from ringing or vibrating from unwanted calls. Before turning this on, make sure important phone numbers are stored in your Contacts if you don’t want to miss an important call (never fear – they can still leave a message!).

To turn on Silence Unknown Callers, go to Settings > Phone, then scroll down, tap Silence Unknown Callers, and turn on the feature.


Block all unknown numbers in Android

If you have an Android device, you may be able to block all calls coming from unknown numbers. This is a little more extreme than silencing unknown callers, but if your phone is ringing off the hook, this could be a good option.

To turn on this feature (the instructions may vary from one Android device to another), Tap the phone icon > Tap the three dots at the top of the screen > Tap “Settings” in the dropdown menu > Tap “Block numbers” > Toggle the button beside “Block unknown callers.”


Block specific numbers on your phone

As robo or spam calls come in, you can block each phone number from calling you again. We’ll be honest, this is a game of whack-a-mole, since scammers use endless numbers — even spoof your number, a neighbor, or your bank’s phone number — to keep calling you, but it’s worth a shot if you want to slow these calls.

To block numbers on iOS, open the phone app, tap Recents, tap the Info button next to the phone number or contact that you want to block. Scroll down, then tap Block this Caller. Do this for every number that you want to block in the future.

To block numbers in Android (again, this will depend on the model of your phone), open the Phone app > Tap recent calls or call history > Tap the number you want to block > Find the command to block or report as spam. 


Use a Third-Party Spam Call & Text Blocker

If all else fails — and it might — a third-party app to identify and block annoying robocalls, spam calls and texts is a great option.

These apps enhance the caller ID functions of your phone, employ large blacklists of spam numbers to automatically block calls and texts in real time, along with other call blocking features. Some apps are free with limited bells and whistles, while the paid apps have more robust features and customer service, which also comes with a monthly or yearly user fee.

Some popular spam blocking apps include Hiya: Caller ID & Spam Blocker (Free on iOS & Android), Nomorobo ($1.99 per device, per month + a 14 day free trial), and RoboKiller: Spam Call Blocker ($39.99/yr + 7 day free trial).

Check out 7 of the best robocall blocking apps and tools for avoiding phone spam on Mashable for more in depth reviews to help you find the right spam blocking app for you.