If you think robocalls (automated telemarketing phone calls) are getting more annoying, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), complaints about illegal telemarketing calls have risen dramatically lately.
The good news is that apps can help you block robocalls so you can avoid the annoyance of having to answer calls that are nothing more than an illegal sales pitch. No more guessing about whether that unknown number is a call you should be answering or a robot on the other end of the line. With these apps you can block calls and be alerted when a telemarketer is trying to reach you.
The Robocall Problem
If you have a phone, you undoubtedly know the problem of robocalls calls. These calls are getting more sophisticated, trying to fool you into thinking they’re legitimate. They try to sell you on new credit cards, travel deals, time shares, etc., wasting your time and perhaps trying to scam you.
These calls may seem to come from a local phone number, making you think it’s a nearby business or someone in your community. To mask the delay in responding after you answer a call, a robot may say, “Sorry, I had to adjust my headset,” making you think there is a real person speaking.
Those in the U.S. may think that registering their cell phone number with the U.S. National Do Not Call Registry will take care of the problem. But while registering your cell phone number is a good idea, the Registry is becoming less effective in blocking unwanted calls.
If you find these calls and the ways they try to fool you annoying, you’re not alone. According to a recent FTC report, the number of consumer complaints about illegal telemarketing calls, mostly robocalls, has quintupled in the past 8 years.
In the fourth quarter of 2009, the FTC received an average of 63,000 complaints about these calls each month. By 2017, complaints about these calls rose to an average of 375,000 per month . See, FTC December 2017, Biennial Report to Congress, Under the Do Not Call Registry Fee Extension Act of 2007.
Solutions to Robocalls
Apps to block robocalls may be the answer for you. By using apps on your phone, you can block or screen robocalls to avoid being interrupted by their intrusions. As robocalls are becoming more sophisticated, apps to block them are continuing to advance.
Cell Phone Provider Solutions
AT&T offers a free app called Call Protect to their customers to help block robocalls. (More on Call Protect below).
T-Mobile and MetroPCS use Scam ID and Scam Block to shield their customers from robocalls. See how to sign up, The Verge T-Mobile’s spam call blocking is coming to MetroPCS.
Sprint users can block calls using My Sprint, though this feature does not work with calls made using Wi-Fi. See, Sprint Block, restrict or allow voice calls using My Sprint.
Check with your cell phone carrier to see whether it offers call blocking apps or settings for your account.
Other App Solutions
Apps for both iPhone and Android are available to help you block unwanted robocalls. Many of the apps are free, while some are paid and some are free with in-app purchases. Try the free solutions first to see if they meet your needs.
Hiya Caller ID & Block
Hiya is an app for iPhone and Android that blocks unwanted calls and text messages, lets you create a blacklist for unwanted callers, gives spam alerts, and helps identify who is calling.
The app is free to download and use, and doesn’t contain ads.
This video shows how Hiya works:
Hiya is available:
The iPhone version is English only, while the Android version is available in English, French, German and Spanish.
Robokiller blocks calls from over 100,000 telemarketers, tells you who’s calling, and lets you create your own block and allow lists. This app is the winner of the FTC RoboCall’s Contest and comes highly rated in both app stores.
Robokiller is free to download and comes with a free trial period. After that time, Robokiller charges a fee for its services.
The app is not yet available for Android.
AT&T Call Protect App
People with AT&T cell phone service can (and should) download the Call Protect app. This app comes with automatic fraud blocking, suspected spam warning, and the ability to add numbers to your block list. You can use the app to report spam calls and see a list of numbers that have called you.
This video from AT&T shows how its Call Protect app works:
The Call Protect app is free to download and use.
Other Robocall Blocking Apps
Many other call blocking apps exist to help protect you from robocalls. CTIA has extensive lists of robocall blocking apps for both iPhone and Android.
(These lists aren’t dated so some of these apps may have become obsolete or may not have been updated recently. Before you download an app from these lists, be sure to read the reviews and see how recently the app has been updated.)
CTIA Robocall Blocking App lists:
When You Shouldn’t Use a Robocall App
Unfortunately, apps aren’t perfect and may unintentionally block robocalls that you actually want to get. Why would you want to get robocalls?
Robocalls could be important when you’re waiting to hear whether a school is closing for bad weather, or from a delivery company with the time window during which your stuff will arrive, or from a service company letting you know when a repair person will come to your home.
If you think you may be receiving a robocall that you need to hear, pause or turn off the robocall app so you don’t miss an important call.
Do you find robocalls annoying? Do you think the problem of robocalls is getting worse? Have you tried using an app to block robocalls?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
*Robot caller image (edited) courtesy of David Castillo Dominici via freedigitalphotos.net
**Say No to Robocalls image courtesy of Mike Licht via Flickr and Creative Commons