Spam calls have been a problem for years, even before we all carried a phone around in our pocket we would find ourselves harassed on our landlines during dinner. Robocallers have only gotten more sophisticated over time and have adapted to the new caller ID function on mobile phones by masking their spam with local, genuine-looking phone calls. If you get a call from an unknown number, there are a number of ways you can check who it was that rang you as well as ways you can prevent getting such calls in the future.
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First, let’s go over some definitions of the different types of spam calls you may get.
Robocallers – these are automated, prerecorded messages.
Spammers – these are solicited calls made indiscriminately to a large number of people, although this can include callers to whom you have given consent to contact you.
Fraud calls – these are callers pretending to be someone they are not with malicious intent.
So what are your options?
Block numbers individually – this may be your first instinct but if you are getting a large number of calls from lots of different numbers then it is not a reasonable option. This also does not work against blocked or private callers as you can only block specific phone numbers. If there is, however, one number in particular that keeps calling you then this solution should solve that problem immediately.
Trust or pay your carrier to protect you – many major mobile providers have actually taken steps to act as a barrier between you and spam callers using behind-the-scenes network improvements such as the shaken/stir technology.
This technology allows the network to verify when a call is legitimate and weed out the many spoofed numbers that you may be getting from your own area code despite the fact that they are probably coming from all over the world. All of the major phone carriers offer some level of spam blocking for free as part of your plan such as EE, T-Mobile and Virgin.
Protect yourself using a third-party app – there are many services such as RoboKiller, Hiya, and Nomorobo, designed to prevent those nuisance calls. The majority of them require you to pay a subscription fee. The basis of these services is a constantly updated list of robocallers, spammers and fraud numbers that is used to flag such calls. When a call comes in the service runs the number against their database and if it finds a match then the incoming call will get shut down before it reaches you. You can also maintain your own personal blacklist and whitelist those you want to get through.
Only allow calls from your contacts – there is always the more extreme option of simply setting up your phone to only receive calls from numbers you know. On both Android and iOS you can turn on Do Not Disturb mode to allow phone calls only from people and businesses in your contact list.