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How to Prevent Spam Callers From Leaving Voicemail

by on July 15, 2021
in Privacy, News, Phones and Mobile, Blog :: 83 comments

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Blocking of spam callers has gotten better, with many carriers implementing STIR/SHAKEN (more on that below) and other carrier-based methods of preventing spam callers before they ever ring on your phone. But even with the newest technologies, it's clear from comments from our readers and our own experience that plenty of spam callers are still getting through. And if you don't answer those calls, they'll fill up your mailbox with sketchy messages about your car warranty or vacation club offers.

Unfortunately, preventing spam callers from leaving a voicemail on your cell phone can be tricky. We've researched the options from each carrier and tested a number of call blocking apps to see what really works. Here are the solutions we've found for blocking spam calls and voicemails directly through your phone, via your carrier or a third-party app, and the features and limitations of each method.

Blocking Calls on iPhones (but not voicemail)

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 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 theses voicemails show up in a "Blocked Messages" folder at the bottom of your list of voicemails and you won't get a notification.

You can also choose to silence unknown callers – anyone who is not listed in your iPhone's Contacts. Your iPhone won't ring, but the calls will show up in recent calls and you'll see voicemail in your regular voicemail inbox.

Blocking Calls on Android Phones (and voicemail on Pixel)

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 – the spammer has to call your first and blocked callers still go to voicemail.

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 "Spam and Call Screen," and make sure the " See caller & spam ID" is toggled on. This feature still sends those calls to voicemail, however.

If you have a Google Pixel phone, you can choose to have Google Assistant 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. To turn it on, go to "Settings" in your Phone app, then "Spam and Call Screen," and make sure the " See caller & spam ID" is toggled on. Tap "Call Screen." Under “Unknown call settings,” tap the types of callers you’d like to screen "Spam," "Possibly faked numbers," "First-time callers," and "Private or hidden."

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 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, the Call Control app for Android will actually 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 white-labels 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 or $14.99 per year.

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 you need to use the Google Voice app as your main calling app on your phone. 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 needs to 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). Under the TRACED Act that took effect last year, carriers can now finally block suspected spam calls before they reach your device.

The FCC has also been working with carriers for years to deploy a technology called STIR/SHAKEN, which authenticates calls. When a call originates, the caller ID is "signed" as legitimate and is validated each step of the way, as it moves from network to network, before reaching you. The major carriers have implemented STIR/SHAKEN and are starting to show when a number has been verified. This can show up as a "verified number," "caller verified," or "valid number." On iPhones running iOS 13 or higher, you'll see a check mark under calls in your Recent Calls list that have been verified. Right now, the lack of these verification labels doesn't mean that the number is spoofed. It just means that numbers with the tag have successfully validated all the way through the call routing and you can know the number isn't spoofed.

Soon your carrier may start blocking calls that haven't been validated. According to a recent FCC statement (PDF document), "Beginning on September 28, 2021, if a voice service provider’s certification does not appear in the database, intermediate and voice service providers will be prohibited from directly accepting the provider’s traffic." This could be a big advancement, since nearly 95 percent of all robocalls originate on small networks, according to a recent study by Transaction Network Services, an anti-robocalling technology company. We will have to see how the robocallers adapt.

In the meantime, all the major carriers offer various flavors of spam blocking services, some free and some which you have the privilege of paying extra for.

Call blocking on AT&T

At a basic level, AT&T postpaid customers can activate AT&T’s free Call Protect service on their accounts with the Call Protect app. Call Protect will block known spam calls entirely, preventing them from leaving a voicemail, and let you block specific numbers. You'll also see "Valid Number" if the call has been verified.

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, political calls, telemarketers, account services, and general spam. You can choose to have these calls go to voicemail or be blocked entirely. And, you can do reverser number lookup, to see who's calling

Call blocking on T-Mobile (and Sprint)

Even though T-Mobile and Sprint have merged, call blocking is still handled separately.

T-Mobile customers can download and use the free Scam Shield app to be notified when scam calls come in or block spam calls and prevent the caller from leaving a voicemail. You can also turn on T-Mobile's scam blocking by dialing #662# and pressing the call button. You'll also see "Caller Verified," if the call has been verified.

For $4 a month, Scam Shield Premium lets you send categories of calls, like telemarketing calls, survey calls, political calls, and charity calls, straight to voicemail. And, you can do reverse number lookup, to see who's calling.

Former Sprint customers can use the free Sprint Call Screener app, which comes preloaded on most Android phones and can be downloaded for iPhones. The app automatically identifies callers and will show verified calls as "Verified Number." You can also set up a personalized call blocking list.

Call blocking on Verizon

Verizon's Call Filter service offers 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 block spam calls by risk level (either send to voicemail or hang up), report calls to improve Verizon's community blocking list, and add neighborhood spoofing protection. For $2.99, you can get Call Filter Plus, which offers more advanced caller ID, including viewing incoming-call risk level, and reverse number lookup features.

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.

[Image credit: scam call via Shutterstock]

Updated on 7/15/2021 with new recommendations

Josh Kirschner is the co-founder of Techlicious and has been covering consumer tech for more than a decade. He covers privacy and consumer protection issues, as well as anything that ties into his passion for food and cycling.

Discussion loading

Now there are three ways

From Alise on November 26, 2018 :: 8:32 am

Now there are three ways to stop spam. The first is to use native iOS and Android blocking functions. The second is to use third-party spam blocking apps and the third- not use a mobile phone. Actually, we can’t stop using our phones as they offer us so many abilities every day. Native OS functions are not always effective, so spam blocking apps is what we really need. When I understood this, I installed CallHound app, created some filtering rules there and switched on the option for blocking calls from short numbers. Now, this app helps me a lot to block unwanted calls, so I can highly recommend it.


Spam calls.

From Oz Hog on November 30, 2018 :: 7:47 pm

If I didn’t get spam calls I wouldn’t get any calls at all!


DNC list sham

From Sara Andersen on February 04, 2019 :: 6:52 pm

Hey-I bet the government DNC list actually harvests our numbers for these scam callers. I added my number on the DNC list a long time ago. That was my home number, it worked well for several years, or so I thought. What seems like is happening now, especially since I added my recently-changed cell phone number on the DNC list, is that I have a lot more telemarketing calls. I probably get 14 to 18 a day & sometimes as many as 20. Positive it will get worse. This is becoming a joke. Service carriers CAN & SHOULD use their tech to block these.


Since most of the comments from last year

From Rhonda Bormann on February 13, 2019 :: 3:39 pm

Has anyone discovered a way for spam callers which you may have blocked to then leave a voicemail with nothing in the voicemail.  It gets annoying to have to listen and delete these voicemails.


Our recommendations are up to date

From Josh Kirschner on February 13, 2019 :: 6:08 pm

The recommendations in the article are pretty up to date. Unfortunately, your options for blocking spammers from voicemail are still pretty limited. However, one thing I did which helps was to turn on Visual Voicemail in my Android phone settings. Visual Voicemail makes it much faster to screen my voicemail messages and delete those that are spam or empty.


Damn voicemails

From Judy Darr on April 26, 2019 :: 6:30 pm

Yes, me too!! We need help!!


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.


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…


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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:


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.


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..


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.


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.



Blocking voice mails from blocked numbers with android and tmobile

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


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.


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.


Block blocked calls from leaving voicemail

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


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


Block blocked calls from leaving voicemail

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


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  I welcome the emails. I encourage them from those that need help with my method to email me.


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.


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.



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.


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 .


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?


Block blocked calls from leaving voicemail

From SAMUEL PRESLEY on June 03, 2021 :: 8:13 am

Best way to block blocked numbers from leaving voicemail on main cell # is to get free digits line from T-Mobile and then have it setup and after it’s setup use in phones dialer **67*1 then number for digits line followed by # then press receiver icon in the dialer app.

Now just start blocking numbers using built in device reject list and or a 3rd party block program to block numbers and the blocked numbers will be sent to digits voiceline voicemail and you will only know the caller called by seeing blocked number in your recent call log.

For this not to notify you of inc calls on digits don’t install tmobiles digits app.

Hope you enjoy this trick. I use it my self and never check the digits line voicemail and with my lgv60 ThinQ 5g phone blocked numbers internally are auto deleted from my recent calls log and the digits voicemail is auto deleted every 30 days and it doesn’t matter if it’s full or not full.

Also on lgv60 ThinQ from T-Mobile it has a digits filter built in os for starts with and blocking area codes and such so if you get a area code with many spam calls from it just block +1AreaCode to it and then there sent to digits voicemail if you used the **67* trick above with your digits number added..



Block blocked calls from leaving voicemail II

From SAMUEL PRESLEY on June 03, 2021 :: 2:04 pm

Grab contacts only from Amazon app store for your Android then change your CFWB number I’m phones call forwarding section to +1-555-555-5555 then no more voice nails from non contact numbers..

This is a second trick I found out.


sort comments by most recent on top

From stephen mehl on July 16, 2021 :: 2:15 pm

Thanks for the comments.
Most recent on top would be more relevant.


Pickup & Hangup

From Denise on July 25, 2021 :: 2:45 am

Should I Answer? for Android works the best.  You can choose pickup and hangup for spam scam calls.  They can not get to your VM, it just hangs up on them.



From SAMUEL PRESLEY on July 25, 2021 :: 1:26 pm

Hey all there is a very kewl 3rd party app hosted Thru F-Droid that allows you to block full and partial Numbers and it shows Blocked numbers in Androids notification bar with the name you setup numbers to be blocked and best of all it allows the list of blocked numbers to be saved in a . Db file inside the Android devices internal storage space. It’s FREE AND HAS NO ADS.

Only thing I hate is there is no Icon for it in status bar to say it’s running. Only way to see that is when a full or partial or area code you blocked tries to reach you.

Hope this helps..


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