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How to Block Telemarketers on Android & iPhone

by on March 10, 2014
in Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Tips & How-Tos, Privacy :: 12 comments

No one enjoys cell phone spam, especially aggressive telemarketing calls and texts while you're on the go. Though you can list your cell phone number on the Do Not Call Registry, that doesn't stop telemarketing text messages or even all phone calls in our experience.

If you're tired of these nuisances, you have options. You can use the following apps and features built into your phone to help cut down on spam.

 

For Android smartphones

If your phone is updated to Android 4.4 KitKat (check Settings > About Phone to check which Android version your device is running) there are some built-in features that identify incoming calls. Caller ID by Google will match incoming calls with Google Places listing and display that name on the call screen for you. Unfortunately, this is highly dependent on the company being listed in Google's business directory. 

For earlier versions of Android, your options vary somewhat by manufacturer. When you get a spam call, open the call log and press and hold the number you want to block. While you're holding, a menu will pop up letting you add that number to your contacts or block it. Samsung calls it "add to reject list," HTC calls it "block contact"—you get the idea. On LG models, you can go into system >> call >> call reject >> and then use the + to add numbers from your recent calls.

If you have Android 4.2.2 you can also opt to send all calls from a specific contact directly to voicemail. Once you get a call, make a contact out of that incoming number. Then view that contact (the People widget) and tap on the menu to see the option "All calls to voicemail."

If your version of Android doesn't have what you need, check out one of these apps that specialize in dealing with annoying calls in different ways.

Mr. NumberBest for blocking spam: Mr. Number

Mr. Number lets you block calls and texts from specific numbers or specific area codes, and it can automatically block private or unknown numbers. It also lets users report spam, so when you get a call from an unknown number, you can see what others have reported about it.

When a blocked number tries to call, your phone may ring once, though usually not at all, and then the call is either disconnected or sent to voicemail, based on how you want the call handled.

Price: Free at Google Play (reverse lookups for a fee)

TruecallerBest for Identifying Calls: Truecaller

While Mr. Number focuses on blocking calls and texts, Truecaller focuses on identifying who's trying to get in touch.

Truecaller provides caller ID information and reverse lookup data for incoming calls and texts — and all this info means that Truecaller knows who spammers are and lets you block them before they start bothering you.

The app makers maintain a database of spam callers and telemarketers and will automatically flag incoming calls as such. This database comes from both white and yellow pages services as well as crowdsourced from the Truecaller community. And, it's proven effective in screening out the One Ring Phone Scam calls.

Truecaller will ask to add your list of contacts to its database, but this is purely optional. You will have to verify your number with Truecaller before being able to use the service.

Price: Free at Google Play

 

Truecaller for iPhoneFor iPhones

iOS 7 has built-in options for blocking numbers.

Go to the Contacts app  and tap on the contact you want to block or find the number on the Recent Calls tab (clock icon) on your Phone app and tap the circled "i" icon to the right of the number. Both these methods will take you to the contact page for that caller. Scroll to the bottom and click on the Block This Caller.

But what about identifying incoming calls or texts as spam?

For that you can rely on Truecaller listed above in the Android section. It also has an iPhone version that will identify incoming calls against their extensive list of telemarketers and spammers.

Price: Free on iTunes

 

Other blocking options

If you don't find any built-in features or apps to your liking, your carrier might offer blocking options (although they could come at a cost).

  • AT&T users should look for Smart Limits, a parental control feature that lets you block calls and texts for $4.99 per month.
  • Sprint users can set up call blocking from My Sprint.
  • Verizon users can block five numbers for free or pay $4.99 a month for more blocking options.
  • T-Mobile offers the fewest features here, though you can block all text messages or contact support about potentially blocking specific numbers.

Finally, try filtering by using a Google Voice number as your primary means of contact. Google Voice offers great spam filtering options with a database of known spam numbers, and it can automatically block potential spam. You can port an existing number to Google Voice for a $20 fee to enjoy first-class call filtering options no matter what kind of phone you're using. This method works for both iPhones and Android smartphones.

[woman shouting into phone image via Shutterstock]

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Discussion loading

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HTC Blocking Question

From Jeffrey Deutsch on March 10, 2014 :: 10:26 am

Hello,

I have an HTC DNA running Jelly Bean 4.2.2. Is there any app which will enable me to block (not just send to voicemail) one or more specific numbers, on an HTC phone?

Btw, I am aware of my carrier blocking options so I’m only asking about apps here—and only about blocking, not sending to voicemail or identifying.

Thank you!

Jeff Deutsch

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Hi Jeff. When you go

From Suzanne Kantra on March 10, 2014 :: 11:38 am

Hi Jeff. When you go into your “call history” and press and hold on a number, do you see option for “block contact?” I tested with an HTC One running 4.1 this morning and just updated the OS to 4.3. For me it worked with both versions of the OS. Let me know what you’re seeing.

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Mr. Number

From Greg Williams on March 10, 2014 :: 11:16 am

I have used Mr. Number for a couple years. When I was using a Samsung Galaxy Express runningIce Cream my phone would ring. When I upgraded to an S4 running the updated Ice Cream and now Kit Kat my phone doesn’t even ring if I have blocked a #, so your info is wrong in those situations!

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Thanks for the heads up.

From Suzanne Kantra on March 12, 2014 :: 4:49 pm

Thanks for the heads up. I tested on a Samsung Galaxy S3 running Android 4.3 and found that sometimes calls from blocked numbers would ring once, but usually didn’t ring at all. I’ve updated the story.

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Truecaller

From Joseph Pianta on March 10, 2014 :: 11:54 am

with their privacy policy they should be working for the NSA.
http://www.truecaller.com/terms-of-service

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"Block Contact" doesn't actually block, just sends to voicemail

From Jeffrey Deutsch on March 10, 2014 :: 12:13 pm

Thanks though!

Jeff Deutsch

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collects name and number

From Alexander Innes on March 10, 2014 :: 8:12 pm

Sadly, truecaller is just another data collector. It wants my number and name. Do it’s gone.
It’s one thing when i can’t stay off someones data list, but to willingly put myself on it is questionable.

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You should have mentioned Contactive!

From Sergio R on March 13, 2014 :: 5:50 pm

Contactive is another option to consider for identifying legitimate businesses versus spammers.

Full disclosure: I work for the sister company of Contactive.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.contactive

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Don't answer unidentified callers

From Richard Jones on March 13, 2014 :: 5:59 pm

This has been my routine for years: if the caller is not in my contact list, I don’t answer. If legitimate, the caller will leave a voice mail. Spammers never have.

Later, I add that spammer to my “Spam” contacts.

-Richard

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Landlines

From Derek on March 14, 2014 :: 12:58 pm

Don’t forget us old timers on landlines.  For landlines the best option is the T-Lock call blocker.

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disconnect message on call screen

From jg on November 14, 2014 :: 10:37 am

I’ve tried YouMail and Mr number. Neither do what I want.

I want a button on my screen when my phone rings that will answer the phone and play the “this number is disconnected” message.

I get several calls a week from illegal robo-callers from a different fake caller id every time.  Since it’s a different number each time, blocking a particular number won’t help.

Anyone?

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Take a look at Privacy Star

From Josh Kirschner on November 14, 2014 :: 11:45 am

The Privacy Star app looks at reports from across their community to identify telemarketing numbers and block them before your phone even rings. There is a free version, though some features requires a paid subscription.

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