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How to Block Calls on an Android Phone

by Josh Kirschner on March 26, 2020

With robocalls up 35% in 2019, there is no doubt things have gotten out of control. If you're fed up and want to block these spam calls on your Android phone, here are four ways to do it.

1. Block calls on Android using built-in phone features

Android has built-in call blocking – just tap a number in your call log and hit Block/report spam. But this method isn't very useful. First, someone has to call you in order to block the number. And since spammers rarely use the same number, or use the “neighborhood spoofing” technique, this won’t block the majority of spam calls we get.

Android also has the option in the Phone app settings to automatically identify and block suspected spam calls so they don’t ring your device. It should be on by default, but you can check by going to Settings in your Phone app, then Caller ID & spam, and make sure both the Caller ID & spam and Filter spam calls switches are toggled on. This feature still sends those calls to voicemail, however.

There is a call screening feature for Pixel phones that allows Google Assistant to answer a suspected spam call and transcribe the conversation in real time, so you can decide if you want to answer the call or hang up. You'll see the option to screen a call when an incoming call comes in. Since Google Assistant picks up the call when you screen, hanging up won’t send the spammer to voicemail, though you still have to read the transcript and take action, which may be more of a pain than simply answering the call yourself.

  • Block known spam numbers? Yes
  • Block area code spoofing? No
  • Block call from going to voicemail? Not in a helpful way

2. Use an Android spam blocking app

There are dozens of apps in Google Play that are labeled as call blockers. But you have to be very careful about which you install – you’re giving them full access to your phone, texts, contacts and more, meaning there’s a lot of potential for misuse. And each of those apps will only perform as well as the technology (and the blacklist) running it. The best have large communities of millions of users who are constantly submitting new numbers to the suspected spam list.

I strongly recommend going with one of the top-rated brand name choices, such as Hiya or Truecaller. Personally, I prefer Hiya (which whitelabels its technology to Samsung, AT&T and others), has an extensive community-driven blacklist, allows you to block neighborhood spoofing calls, and even provides caller ID features that you would usually have to pay for with your carrier. The downside to Hiya is that it requires a $2.99 per month subscription to get caller ID and spam blocking. The free version provides spam notifications on calls and gives you the option to ignore them, but they're not blocked. Thankfully, both versions offer area code blocking, which is a sizeable portion of the spam calls I get on a regular basis.

Unlike Hiya, Truecaller's free version has spam call blocking and caller ID. However, it doesn't have that critical area code blocking feature to stop those neighborhood spoofing calls. 

Also, while both these apps will block calls, because of restrictions placed on apps by the Android operating system neither can stop those calls from going to voicemail.

  • Block known spam numbers? Yes
  • Block area code spoofing? Yes
  • Block call from going to voicemail? No

3. Blocking via Google Voice

Google Voice provides another way to block pesky spam calls and, better yet, can prevent them from going to voicemail. The trick is you need to switch to Google Voice as your main number and stop giving out your old carrier number. With Voice, you can block known spam calls in three ways: by sending those calls to voicemail, by treating the call as spam (letting the caller leave voicemail but tagged as spam) or by call blocking (in which case the caller will hear a “Number not in service” message and will not be able to leave voice mail).

The big drawback here is that your Google Voice number now becomes your main number, which you forward to the number from your carrier, and that takes some work to transition. And there’s still no guarantee that spam callers won’t call your carrier number directly, either because it’s already out there (learn how telemarketers get your number) or simply because the robodialers are going through every number combination.

  • Block known spam numbers? Yes
  • Block area code spoofing? No
  • Block call from going to voicemail? Yes

4. Carrier-level spam blocking

Truly effective call blocking and voicemail prevention should be at the carrier level. It’s the carriers who have the technical capability to identify call origination sources and create services that prevent spam and blocked calls from going to voicemail (since they’re the ones that control the voicemail service). And all the carriers have some level of blocking on their networks to weed out the most obvious and egregious spammers. Significant improvements will come as carriers roll out the new SHAKEN/STIR framework. Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Comcast are starting to work together. Until the U.S. and international carriers all work together, these are your options.

Call blocking on AT&T

Of the four major carriers, AT&T has the most effective tools for blocking spam calls and it’s the only one that actually lets you stop these calls from going to voicemail. AT&T postpaid customers with HD Voice Android can activate AT&T’s free Call Protect service on their accounts. Call Protect will block known spam calls entirely, preventing them from leaving a voicemail. And with the companion Android app you can also block specific numbers.

If you want more features, you can upgrade to Call Protect Plus for a pricey $3.99 a month. Call Protect Plus users can block categories of calls, including: private callers, debt collectors, telemarketers, surveys, and general spam. You can choose to have these calls go to voicemail or be blocked entirely. Unfortunately, there is no option to block local number spoofing.

  • Block known spam numbers? Yes
  • Block area code spoofing? No
  • Block call from going to voicemail? Yes
  • Cost? Free for critical features, $3.99 month for more granular call blocking features

Call blocking on Sprint

Sprint offers a basic free service, Call Screener Basic, that identifies and lets you block what Sprint calls "only the highest-risk spam calls." If you want protection from all suspected spam calls, you'll need to step up to Call Screener Plus for $2.99 per month will shield you from lower-risk nuisance calls, let you mark numbers as spam, among other caller ID features. 

  • Block known spam numbers? Yes, but only for "highest risk calls"
  • Block area code spoofing? No
  • Block call from going to voicemail? No
  • Cost? $2.99 month

Call blocking on T-Mobile

T-Mobile sits in the middle when it comes to spam call protections. For postpaid customers, T-Mobile’s free Scam ID service is automatically activated and will notify you of potential spam calls. But what you really want is their Scam Block feature, which will block these calls from ever reaching your device and prevent the caller from leaving a voicemail. Scam Block is also free but requires you to manually activate it, which you can do simply by dialing #662# from your phone (you can also disable it by dialing #632# if it is blocking any valid calls). There is no option to block categories of calls or neighborhood spoofing. Though, for $4 a month, you can get the not-very-useful Name ID service with more advanced caller ID and caller category info.

  • Block known spam numbers? Yes
  • Block area code spoofing? No
  • Block call from going to voicemail? Yes
  • Cost? Free, $4.99 a month for advanced caller ID

Call blocking on Verizon

Verizon’s Call Filter will identify likely spam callers and give you the option of automatically blocking them. Call Filter Plus, which requires a $2.99 per month subscription fee per line (or $7.99 for 3+ lines), lets you block calls based on risk level: High Risk, Medium Risk or All Risk Levels. However, you can only prevent High Risk calls from going to voicemail.

  • Block known spam numbers? Yes
  • Block area code spoofing? No
  • Block call from going to voicemail? Only for High Risk calls
  • Cost? $2.99 a month per line, $7.99 for 3+ lines

Read our advice for blocking spam on your landline and call and text blocking on your iPhone, too.

Updated on 3/26/2020 with new carrier-based call blocking information

[Image credit: Techlicious]


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Discussion loading

Call Blocking on Android

From Wille on October 18, 2021 :: 1:42 pm

I have a Samsung A01 smartphone using the Android system.  It has the latest update for it.  But, yet after changing the settings to ONLY receive calls from my Contact list I still get unknown callers and texts.

It appears that the A01 settings must no be working as I received a call from an unknown number in my area code.

I then did a reverse directory and no name was attached to that number.



From caleb on September 18, 2022 :: 1:54 pm



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