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How to Prevent Spam Callers From Leaving Voicemail

by on July 15, 2019
in Privacy, News, Phones and Mobile, Blog :: 74 comments

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How to Prevent Spam Callers From Leaving Voicemail

One of the simplest ways to manage unwanted calls and telemarketing spam is to block your phone from ringing, routing the incoming call to voicemail. Callers will have to leave a message, and many telemarketers won't bother. But some callers, especially the robocalls, will, flooding your mailbox with sketchy debt relief or vacation club offers.

Unfortunately, preventing spam callers from leaving a voicemail on your cell phone can be tricky. But there are a few options that really do work if you’re on the right carrier, the right phone or willing to change the way you manage your phone calls.

Blocking Calls on iPhones

On iPhones running iOS 8 or higher, go the Recent Calls tab in the Phone app, tap the “i” icon at the right of the number that you want to block. If the number is in your Contacts list, open that contact’s page in the Contacts app. From the contact page for the caller or contact, scroll to the bottom of the page and tap Block This Caller.

But this method has two big drawbacks. 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 (where they use your area code and three number prefix), this won’t block the majority of spam calls we get. Second, those blocked calls still go to voicemail, though you won't get a notification. So, this isn’t really much help.

Blocking Calls on Android Phones

Android has built-in call blocking, similar to iOS. Just tap a number in your call log and hit Block/report spam. And like Apple, this method has the two same drawbacks.

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.

One exciting development is a new feature for Google Pixel phones that will allow 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. And since Google Assistant already picked up the call, hanging up won’t send it to voicemail. Initially, you still have to read the transcript and take action, which may be more of a pain than simply answering the call yourself. Hopefully, Google will add the option to auto-hangup if it can tell it’s a robocaller.

Spam Blocking Apps for Android & iOS

There are dozens of apps in the Apple App Store and 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. Also, while these apps will all block calls, because of restrictions placed on apps by the Android and iOS operating systems, most won't stop those calls from going to voicemail.

However, I recently reviewed the Call Control app for Android, and it's the first one I've tried that actually will block robocalls from leaving voicemail. Calls on your blocklist, neighborhood spoofing calls and calls identified by Call Control's community blocking are simply dropped - no ring, no mailbox filling up with crap you have to delete. At $29.99 per year, it's not cheap, but that's in line with other major call blockers, such as Hiya or Truecaller, that don't offer the voicemail blocking capabilities. Call Control does have a free offering, which blocks neighborhood spoofing numbers but not numbers on the community blocklist; if most of the calls you receive are of that variety, you can get away with this option.

Unfortunately, Call Control for iOS doesn't offer the voicemail blocking because of limitations Apple puts on iOS device access, so you're probably better off with Hiya or Truecaller, who have larger community blocking lists. 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. Hiya is $2.99 per month.

Blocking via Google Voice

Google Voice provides another way to block pesky spam calls and 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 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.

Carrier-level 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. Yet, while the FCC has been working with carriers to develop more robust tools, options are still limited, and carriers have been very slow at implementing technology to make the robocall problem go away entirely.

Call blocking on AT&T

Of the four major carriers, AT&T has the most effective tools for blocking spam calls. At a basic level, AT&T postpaid customers with HD Voice Android and iOS phones 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 or iOS 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, which is a huge drawback.

Call blocking on Sprint

Sprint has the weakest offering of the four main carriers. Their Premium Caller ID service provides caller information on incoming calls, including spam warnings, but that’s it. There’s no option to block known spam calls or prevent them from going to voicemail. And, you have to pay $2.99 a month for this basically useless feature.

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, and there is no community reporting process to flag new spam callers as they pop up.

For $4 a month, you can get the not-very-useful Name ID service with more advanced caller ID and caller category info.

Call blocking on Verizon

Verizon's Call Filter service now offers basic spam blocking for free. You'll get a warning of incoming likely spam and can send those calls to voicemail. With the app, you can also report calls to improve Verizon's community blocking list. But there's no neighborhood spoofing protection, nor can you stop calls from filling up your mailbox. For $2.99, you can get Call Filter Plus, which offers more advanced caller ID and reverse number lookup features, along with some other not-super-helpful personal spam list options. 

While all of the options above will help you block calls and, in some cases, stop spammers from leaving a voicemail, the best way to prevent these calls in the first place is to learn how telemarketers get your cell phone number — and then don’t let them have it. Prevention is better than cure, after all. And we have advice for blocking spam on your landline, too.

[Image credit: scam call via Shutterstock]

Updated on 7/15/2019 with new recommendations



Discussion loading

Talking to robo c

From Marsha Jones on March 13, 2019 :: 12:55 am

On You Tube, there are some fellas who get them to stop calling by answering and then -well, they have several different ways-all of them humorous- that makes the caller hang up!It’s clever and hilarious. Please listen. I did it and started my day w/ a smile when I used one of their methods.

Reply

Not a good idea

From Josh Kirschner on March 13, 2019 :: 5:08 pm

If your goal is to stop robocallers, do not engage with the call or callers. Doing so confirms your number is valid, which could lead to more calls.

On the other hand, if you just want to waste their time and have some fun…

Reply

have your carrier totally disable call forwarding when busy

From SAM PRESLEY on May 15, 2019 :: 11:57 am

If you have your cell carrier disable CWFB - call forward when busy on your line then blocked calls cant ring your device or leave voicemails because the blocked number calling will only hear 3 rings in their ear then total silence.

I live in USA wa state and having turned off CFWB thru tmobile did the trick and no more voicemails from blocked numbe tr s.

I dont know why you all aren’t paying attention to my previous post about this.

It’s no joke and works perfectly to stop voicemails from 3rd party as apps that normally as well as android phone reject list.

Reply

Known Spammers Dont Answer

From John on May 23, 2019 :: 8:46 pm

Figured I would put a list of scammers that called me and a couple of my friends. That way robots could pick them up and call them.
843-485-xxxx

Reply

Please stop posting these numbers on our site

From Josh Kirschner on May 24, 2019 :: 9:09 am

Spammers spoof numbers. Posting a list of numbers from spam calls is likely just posting a list of completely innocent people. We’ve removed the numbers from your post.

Reply

How to Prevent Spam Callers From Leaving Voicemail

From P. D. Mahoney on July 16, 2019 :: 4:15 pm

Hey, Josh.  I stumbled upon a combo fix for my iPhone that seems to be working well.  Our carrier is Verizon Wireless.  I use the free version of their Call Filter app and also subscribe to the NoMoRobo app. Both apps are enabled in Settings and, yes, both have access to my contacts.  I had been using Nomorobo for about a year, but spam was still getting through on an almost daily basis, albeit much less than when I had no filters.  Adding Call Filter to the mix changed the game.  Legitimate calls come through without a hitch, and peace otherwise reigns supreme. For the time being, I view providing access to my contacts as a practical compromise given the onslaught of spam I used to get. But that has to be monitored.  Sharing FWIW.

Reply

I tried this...

From Lynn Brooks on July 18, 2019 :: 8:28 pm

I have an iPhone 7.  When the phone rings either gives the phone number or not, I use the message option to answer.  I created 2 messages of my own.  The first one says “no ID, no answer”.  The second one says “STOP”.  This sends the calls to voice mail which I can then block later on.  I also rechecked that my phone number is still on the Do Not Call list and it is.  From information provided by the Do Not Call folks, they inform you that once you tell a caller to remove you from the list or reply STOP, they can no longer legally call you.  It takes some work, but I am finally getting fewer calls!  And I did it all by myself :o)

Reply

Caller ID & spam and Filter spam calls switches

From Jim Brown on July 26, 2019 :: 2:27 pm

I just bought a new Samsung phone and it does not have these options under the phone settings.

Reply

Samsung uses a proprietary system in conjunction with Hiya

From Josh Kirschner on July 29, 2019 :: 1:04 pm

Samsung has its own calling/spam blocking system based on Hiya’s tech. You can read more about it here: https://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/apps/smart-call/.

Reply

Can't block spam calls

From Dana W. on September 08, 2019 :: 3:06 pm

Read the article then went to the settings on my Android phone.  Unfortunately settings doesn’t have either Caller ID or Spam options. 

I have a 3 yr old Motorola Moto G5 Plus phone so it isn’t super expensive but not super cheap either.

Current plan is with Ultra Mobile a division of T-mobile which is quite cheap.  I pay about $24/month (taxes incl) for unlimited talk and text and 3 GIG of data which is plenty for me.  There are other price options.

Can only hope the government and carriers will really do something about spammers and robocallers.  Aside from the nuisance factor many people believe them and get scammed out of money.

Reply

To stop blocked numbers from going to contacts. (New)

From Samuel J. Presley on November 21, 2019 :: 10:49 am

Hi there all,

If you wanna to try to stop blocked numbers or numbers from being able to leave messages in your voicemail then download the free app Call Blocker by Kite Tech.

I got a new phone which is a OnePlus 7 Pro TMobile USA version and this app works excellent because it picks up blocked private numbers and numbers on call blocker app blacklist as well as option to block numbers not on your contacts and instantly hangs up on the call.

I find this free app excellent..

Please let me know what you think about the above forementioned app works out for you because I’m curious if the pickup and hangup feature works on other Android Devices..

P.S. you will see the blocked call(s) listed as a missed call while blocking calls and caller ID hidden blocked numbers…

Hope this advice helps you all out there..

Reply

Blocking voice mails from blocked numbers with android and tmobile

From Sammy Presley on June 15, 2020 :: 9:11 pm

you can turn call forward when busy to 1 253 426 XXXX in your call forwarding settings forward busy only line only by erasing the voice mail number there and entering 1 253 426 XXXX then pressing update to save the number.

I’m using that method right now to avoid voicemails of blocked numbers. It works fabulous but don’t change any other vm settings under call forwarding or you won’t receive voice mails from unblocked callers.

This works perfect for tmobile subscribers.

Let me know how it works for you all.

Reply

Edited your comment to remove numbers

From Josh Kirschner on June 16, 2020 :: 12:43 pm

Hi Sammy,

I edited your comment because I’m not following how you implement the advice you’re providing and I wasn’t clear on whether the numbers you listed are personal numbers or something else. If you can clarify, we can restore the numbers or edit as appropriate.

Best,
Josh

Reply

Blocking voice mails from blocked numbers with android and tmobile

From Sammy Presley on June 17, 2020 :: 12:58 pm

Josh,

The number I posted is my old Google voice number which was sorta deactivated by Google for misuse they claim.all I used it for is testing of my blocking setup and to test to find the time when my androids default dialer reject list and contacts would mess up and cause problems when unblocked callers would call me..

Right now the number is set to say when called something to the effect that we can’t complete your call and hangs up which makes it perfect number to replace tmobiles voice mail number in the call forwardings forward when busy line so essentially when a blocked number calls back then they receive the message then the call is hung up on not allowing the blocked call to leave a voicemail. Please keep 1 253 426 3782 available to all that wanna use it for blocking voicemails.

I hope u do understand Josh. I use it my self for blocking blocked callers from leaving me voicemails and it works perfectly..

Thank you.

Reply

Blocking voice mails from blocked numbers with android and tmobile

From Sammy Presley on June 18, 2020 :: 1:35 pm

add to my post above..

Use **67*2534263782# dialed from phone dialer to keep blocked numbers from leaving voicemails.

This is for tmobile subscribers.

Unblocked callers can leave voicemails with no problems.

Thank you Josh.

Reply

Block blocked calls from leaving voicemail

From Sammy Presley on July 13, 2020 :: 1:14 pm

JOSH,

Google has decided to at end of this month to disable 253 426 3782 number i posted above from being used anymore so I found a number that just rings and rings and never gets answer or at times says the call needs a coin deposit a few times then hangs up.

So for the above article I wrote change the number to 13012929908 instead of 12534263782.

The new thing is **67*13012929908# now for tmobile and will only block blocked numbers whe n added to the androids internal reject list or when calls are blocked a installed 3rd party call blocking app. This way won’t block voicemails from a turned off phone or a non answered call that isnt blocked. But it works because the line the # gets added to is busy only under call forwarding. Thanks. SAM Presley

Reply

Block blocked calls from leaving voicemail

From Sammy Presley on July 13, 2020 :: 1:34 pm

Josh,


sorry I accidentally pressed the http link in email I got so please leave my email address here please so if anyone has questions about my posts they cam email me at sammypresley@gmail.com.  I welcome the emails. I encourage them from those that need help with my method to email me.

Reply

Warning on Call Control App

From Rick Thompson on September 21, 2020 :: 3:10 pm

Don’t use Call Control if you care about privacy and not being tracked. For one, you have to give the app access to literally everything on your phone. Secondly, there are 11 trackers built into it. It has a privacy rating of ZERO from Exodus Privacy Analyses.

Want to know what I did? I let my mailbox fill up and I leave it that way. I just don’t really care. Everyone I know knows that they have to text me to get me a message and everyone else… like I said, I don’t really care.

Reply

You need context

From Josh Kirschner on September 21, 2020 :: 10:39 pm

All of the call blocking apps - Hiya, Truecaller and, yes, Call Control - need those permissions to perform the functions of managing your phone and messages, among other features. That’s why it’s important to understand who is producing the app and only use those you trust. Hiya and Truecaller are well-known, highly regarded apps. I spoke directly with the developers of Call Control (based in Seattle) when I originally reviewed the app. and you can read more about their privacy in my review.

As Call Control is ad supported for the free version, there are ad trackers, as there are in any ad supported app.

If either of the above things concern you, you certainly don’t need to download Call Control or any other app. Though for many people, giving up on voicemail entirely isn’t a viable solution.

Reply

Dated

From Herkie on October 20, 2020 :: 11:44 am

This is old and useless advice, I get spam robocalls mostly in Spanish that leave voicemails but without there being a ringtone nor a number from an incoming call in my inbox that I can open with my Android to block.  They can call anytime 24/7 and I can’t block them because they do not show up in my call log. 

As scammers and spammers get more sophisticated it would appear the only solution will be to adopt laws that prohibit telephone solisitation entirely.  Which SHOULD have been done decades ago.  I would prefer a law that requires prison time, confiscatory fines, and extreme ease of use for the party being spammed. 

The do not call list never EVER worked, no efforts were put into enforcement.  I think about 6 months after the law was passed the goverenment stopped even checking it.  It was itself just a scam to make people feel like government was helping them out.  It wasn’t.

Reply

Block blocked calls from leaving voicemail

From SAMUEL PRESLEY on February 21, 2021 :: 4:29 pm

Hi there.

This tip works on my T-Mobile device perfectly to block blocked numbers from leaving voice mails and I 100 percent guarantee it.

1. Open your call forwarding settings
2. Look for a line labeled Forward when busy
  Or labeled Busy.
3. That line is used when you entered a number
  To be blocked in your devices Reject List
  To send blocked numbers to voicemail.
4. Type or paste this number +9143459935   to
  That line only which is a constantly always
  Busy number.
5. Then press Update to save this number in
  The call forwarding settings.

Once you do this use another phone with it’s number blocked on your cell device to verify
  That once you call your device from the blocked number plays a Nynex message stating
  Excuse me you need to insert 5 Cents for
  The next 2 minutes or your call will be terminated 2 times and the blocked caller won’t be able to leave any voicemails.

I’ve got this setup on my lgv60 think 5g usa t-mobile device and it works great for blocking
Unwanted voicemails from blocked callers .

Reply

new user from Old School

From Old School about some things on March 08, 2021 :: 2:25 pm

I will not enable VM (or power-ON keycode).
What else should I not start?

Reply

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