Robocalls are those automated recordings that start a few seconds after you answer the call. Sometimes they’re election-related; other times, they may be a business trying to sell you something. Most of the time, though, these calls are scammers trying to make a quick buck.
The good news is there are ways you can reduce or even stop robocalls. From call blocking features on your smartphone to third-party apps you can install, there are some proven ways to do this.
Stop Robocalls on Android
There are two ways you can block unwanted calls using features already on your Android device: block all unknown callers or block calls individually as they come in.
While the process may vary slightly depending on your Android device’s manufacturer, here are the general steps.
Block unknown callers on Android
- Step 1. Open your Phone app and tap on More info (three dots) in the upper-right corner.
- Step 2. Select Settings > Spam and Call Screen.
- Step 3. Toggle Caller ID & Spam Protection to ON.
- Step 4. Select Block numbers.
- Step 5. Toggle the Block spam and scam calls to ON.
With these settings active, the only calls that will get through are from numbers in your Call History or Voicemail. All the rest will be declined and you won’t see any notification at all. Those numbers will, however, still show up in your Recents list.
Block individual numbers on Android
Did you miss or accidentally answer a robocall? You can block these (or any call you get that you don’t want to hear from again) individually, after the fact.
- Step 1. Open the Phone app.
- Step 2. Go to Recent Calls or Call History.
- Step 3. Choose the number you want to block.
- Step 4. Tap the More info (three dots) in the upper right corner of the screen, then choose Block.
- Step 5. Select Block/report spam.
- Step 6. On the popup screen, tick the box for Report call as spam and then choose Block.
Stop Robocalls on iPhone
Just like on an Android device, iPhones give you two options for eliminating unwanted robocalls. One is by blocking all unknown callers. The other is to block robocalls on a number by number basis.
Block unknown callers on iPhone
If you go this route, be aware that some legitimate calls will be blocked, too. Your doctor’s office, friends calling on different numbers, or your food delivery person may be unable to get through to you when this setting is turned on.
But if your desire to weed out robocalls or equally annoying ghost calls is stronger than missing a few legit calls, here’s how to set the feature up on your iPhone.
Block calls on iPhone
- Step 1. Open the Settings app.
- Step 2. Choose Phone > Silence Unknown Callers.
- Step 3. Toggle the Silence Unknown Callers button to ON.
All unknown callers will go straight to voicemail. You also won’t be notified of the incoming call. You can, however, find the number in your Recents list. Known callers on your contact list or numbers you recently called are the only calls that will ring through.
Block individual numbers on iPhone
A number got through that you think is a spam robocall? Here’s how to block a call after the fact.
- Step 1. Open your Phone app.
- Step 2. Select the Favorites, Recents, or Voicemail option.
- Step 3. Select the “i” icon next to the number you want to block.
- Step 4. Select Block this Caller.
- Step 5. Select Block Contact on the popup confirmation screen.
Stop Robocalls on Landlines
Use your phone company’s blocking feature
Still using a landline? Your service provider probably offers call blocking as an optional service, either for free or a small fee. Blocking calls this way is cumbersome and limited, though. Usually you can only block a single number at a time and only after you receive it. Your service provider may also have a cap on how many calls you can block this way.
One such service is from AT&T. The company offers its Call Block/Call Screening feature. With it, you can block up to 10 unwanted numbers from your local calling area for a small monthly charge.
The process to block individual calls varies by provider, but usually it involves dialing *60 to activate the service, then manually entering the phone number you want to block. It’s the most tedious way to block calls, but it works.
Use a handset with built-In call blocking
You can buy telephones that have call blocking functionality built in. This is another option to block robocalls as they come in. Here are some of our top choices.
This cordless phone has several built-in features that help you manage spam calls on your landline. The big Call Block button in the middle of the handset lets you ignore and block any incoming call with a single press of the button.
There’s also a smart blocking feature. You create a phonebook of allowed numbers, then the phone compares each incoming call to that list. If there’s a match, the call rings through like normal. No match results in some screening before the call rings through.
You have two screening options. Screen Robot mode forces the caller to press # to get through. Once they do, the call rings through like normal. Screen Profile mode asks the caller to record their name before pressing #. If they do both, the call rings through but when you answer you hear the recorded message. From there, you can choose how to handle the call—accept, send it to voicemail, or reject.
The AT&T DL72210 includes a base unit with handset and one additional handset. It is priced at $59.99 at Best Buy.
This phone offers smart call blocker and audio caller ID functionality. Just like it’s AT&T counterpart on this list, you can block unwanted robocalls with one touch. It also uses smart call blocking technology to filter incoming calls.
Using an approved phone book that you create, the phone compares incoming calls and rings through any number on the list. Numbers not on the list get special treatment. You can force the caller to press # only or # plus record their name to get through. When the call comes through, you can answer, block, or send to voicemail.
The VTECH IS8151-4 also has a really great range of up to 2,300 feet. This phone is available in a four-handset bundle for $129.99 at Amazon.
Use a call-blocking device
If you already have landline phones and don’t want to replace them, you can still block calls by adding a device to your landline. These devices are inserted between your landline connection and phone. You’ll need caller ID service active on your phone line for these devices to work.
Here are our top picks.
The CPR V5000 includes a built-in database of 5,000 known spam numbers to automatically block unwanted calls, no action needed on your part. You can manually add an additional 1,500 numbers to this list.
The red Block Now button is front and center on the middle of the device. You just press it once anytime an unwanted call comes in. The number is automatically added to your blocked database. If a spam call comes through and you either answer it or miss the call, you can find it by pressing the Call List button which saves the last 20 received calls. Just scroll to the number and manually block it.
The CPR V5000 costs $89.99 and is available on Amazon.
Digitone ProSeries 3
The Digitone ProSeries 3 comes preloaded with millions of blocked numbers and, per the company’s website, trillions of fake names like SPAM and V+ numbers. You can also manually add up to 99 names to the Blocked Name list and unlimited numbers to the Blocked Number list. There are buttons on the device to instantly block by name or number when an unwanted call gets through.
There are also Invited and Preferred VIP Caller lists you can use to create a database of allowed callers. The VIP Caller feature is especially handy. It lets you identify special numbers that can reach you even when you have the device in After Hours mode.
The Digitone ProSeries 3 works on analog phone lines, DSL, cable modems, and VoIP phone service adapters. It is available on Amazon for $79.99.
Stop Robocalls with a Call-Blocking App
Yes, there’s an app for almost everything these days, and blocking robocalls is no exception. Here are our top choices for apps that work on both iPhone and Android devices.
With a database of more than a billion analyzed spam calls on hand, RoboKiller quickly identifies spam telephone numbers trying to call your phone. You won’t be bothered with the call ringing through. You’ll just see a banner on your phone noting a spam robocall was blocked.
RoboKiller lets you have a bit of fun, too. You can enable a feature that uses answer bots to play recordings designed to annoy the spam caller. Those exchanges are recorded, so when you’re bored you can listen to the recordings for fun.
RoboKiller is free to download and you can try it free for seven days. If you like it, you can start a subscription at various membership levels that range from $2.99 to $39.99 per month.
Truecaller uses a community database that includes input from more than 350 million users to track and identify spam numbers. Truecaller blocks spam calls and texts, includes caller ID, and lets you search for unknown numbers.
When a call comes in, Truecaller displays the number with a notation identifying it as spam. You can block unwanted calls and texts on the fly and use Truecaller’s Live Caller ID feature to mark any unknown calls that turn out to be spam.
Truecaller is free to use for basic services. There are also paid options available. Truecaller Premium is $39.99 per year or $5.99 per month. With it you get no ads, the ability to use your phone’s virtual assistant to do live caller ID, unlimited number lookup, call recording, and more.
Truecaller Assistant screens incoming calls for you, using AI to answer the call and ask the caller questions before sending the call through. This helps you determine the caller’s identity and reason for the call. Truecaller Assistant is $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.
Hiya relies on the databases built by its parent company, Hiya, Inc., a global business call management system. Hiya’s databases parse millions of data points from around the world using machine learning to identify and track known scammer numbers.
Incoming calls show call information in real-time, so you can choose how to handle each call. Known or suspected spam numbers are noted, so you can block them right away. You can also report spam numbers that aren’t yet in the Hiya database. There’s also a cool feature that lets you look up numbers in Hiya’s smart dialer, giving you detailed information before you place a call.
You can use Hiya for free or opt for a premium paid option. With premium, you get advanced call screening options and voicemail protection. Hiya Premium is $40.99 for a one-year subscription. You can also pay by the month for $6.49.
Smart block technology is how Call Control prevents unwanted calls from spammers and other unwanted sources. It relies on a user-populated database to identify known spam numbers. Call Control gives you a personal block list you can use to avoid future calls from any person or business, no spamming required.
Call Control also lets you do reverse number lookups. There is also a home version of Call Control you can add to your landline. Call Control is compatible with STIR/SHAKEN authentication technology.
Call Control offers both free and premium options. Call Control Premium is $29.99 per year or you can pay quarterly for $9.99. Additional Premium Lookup Credits are available for a small additional fee.
Stop Robocalls With Your Service Provider (including VoIP)
All the big names in phone service offer optional features to block unwanted calls. Many internet service providers do, too. The same goes for VoIP providers that offer residential service.
ActiveArmor is AT&T’s free mobile security app. It’s available for both iPhone and Android devices.
The free version offers auto fraud call blocking, nuisance call alerts, spam call blocking, unknown calls to voicemail, and more. You can upgrade to ActiveArmor Advanced for $3.99 per month per line. Advanced gives you all free services plus reverse number lookup, caller ID, and more.
Download the free app from Google Play or the App Store to get started.
Verizon Call Filter is an app that identifies spam calls and automatically blocks known high-risk callers. You can set the level of filtering, choosing high-risk only, high and medium risk, or all risk levels. There’s also a safe list for known numbers you never want to block. You can also block numbers by area code and prefix, to avoid robocalls using spoofed numbers close to your own.
Call Filter is free. If you want additional features like caller ID, spam lookup, and a personal block list, you can add Call Filter Plus for $3.99 per month per line or $10.99 per month for plans that include three or more lines.
Call Filter comes preloaded on most Android devices. You can also download it from the App Store or Google Play.
Scam Shield™ is T-Mobile’s app that lets you automatically block calls from identified scam sources, see a caller’s ID, and report suspicious callers plus add them to the global database. You can also create your own “allow list” to ensure all known callers get through every time.
Scam Shield™ is free. You can add more features by upgrading to Scam Shield Premium for $4 per month per line. With it you can send calls directly to voicemail, block by category, look up numbers you don’t recognize, manage your personal block list, and automatically have voicemails texted to you.
You can download the app from Google Play or the App Store.
You can use Spectrum’s free Call Guard service to block robocalls. Enabling this feature will block known malicious callers and display SPAM RISK on the caller ID for suspected spam and robocalls. The feature is automatically enabled for all Spectrum home phone customers.
To view or change these settings, log in to your account and go to the phone line you want to manage. On the Calls tab, look for the Call Guard sidebar. Choose Spam Filter and adjust the screening level on the dropdown menu. You have three options:
- Low: blocks known malicious callers (default setting)
- Medium: blocks telemarketers, spammers, and known malicious callers
- High: blocks robocallers, telemarketers, spammers, and known malicious callers
If a caller has their caller ID suppressed, you can use Xfinity’s Anonymous Call Rejection feature to block them.?? This feature is automatically enabled. You can log in to your Xfinity account and go to Voice Call Blocking Settings > Call Blocking, then ensure the Anonymous Calls Rejection (ACR) box is checked to confirm service is activated.
You can also block up to 25 individual numbers. Go to Voice Call Blocking Settings > Call Blocking, then type in the phone number you want to block and select Add.
You can easily block known spam numbers on Google Voice. Open your Voice app. Tap Menu (three lines) > Settings. Look for the Filter spam option under Security and toggle it ON. This will automatically block any number Google has previously associated as a spam attempt and send it straight to your Spam folder.
To mark a call you already received as spam and block that number forever, go to your Call History and choose the call that is suspected spam. The warning banner will appear in the call details. Select Confirm spam. Going forward, any calls or messages from this number will be sent directly to your spam folder.
If you’re an Ooma Premium subscriber, you have access to all Ooma spam blocking tools. Log into your Ooma account and go to Preferences > Call Blocking. Once you’re there, you can choose how to set up all of the following services:
- Custom call blocking
- Suspected spammer call blocking
- Known spammer call blocking
- Anonymous call blocking
Vonage gives you three options to manage unwanted robocalls. Any suspicious incoming call will be identified as “SPAM?” on your caller ID. You can block, send to voicemail, or accept the call.
To set up preferences for all of these options, sign into your Vonage account, navigate to the Summary tab and go to the Features & Settings section. On the Calling Features tab in that section, find the Features & Settings section and click the Edit link on the Spam Call Block line. From there you can select how you want spam calls to be handled.
What to Do When a Robocall Gets Through
Step 1: Don’t always trust caller ID
Scammers are really good at spoofing their caller ID information. Instead of seeing “Unknown Caller” on your screen, you see what looks like a legitimate number and maybe even a name. Scammers know that the more familiar a number looks, the more likely you are to pick it up.
Scammers do this in a few different ways.
- VoIP: Scammers obtain a VoIP number, add a fake name during VoIP account setup, and make calls using this false information.
- Caller ID spoofing services: Online services are out there that let people change the displayed information on caller ID. There are legitimate reasons for some businesses to do this, but it is also an easy way for scammers to pretend to be someone trustworthy.
- Mobile apps: There are also apps out there that let you spoof your caller ID information, and scammers use these apps to make themselves appear credible on your caller ID.
- Stolen phone numbers: When real personal data, including phone numbers and names, end up on the dark web, scammers buy these lists and use the info to display legitimate numbers and names—the problem is, neither belong to them
- Area codes: Scammers use numbers that mimic the recipient’s area code and even number prefix to make the call look familiar and increase the likelihood of you answering a seemingly familiar call.
Step 2: Hang up immediately
If you do fall for a spoofed number, hang up right away. Don’t say anything, don’t give out any information, and resist the urge to berate the scammer. The longer you stay on the line, the more likely your number is going to be marked as an easy target.
Then you can count on the following:
- Targeted for more calls: Once scammers know there is a person willing to engage on the other end of the phone, you better believe they will call back. Again and again. And if they don’t, another scammer will.
- Added to the “sucker list”: As the name implies, once a scammer knows you will engage, your number gets added to lists that get circulated and sold among fraudsters. The end result is you will be inundated with robocalls by many different scammers.
Step 3: Report it
Some robocalls, like those for political candidates, may be annoying but they are also legal. But robocalls trying to sell you something or ones made by scammers are not. Both are very illegal.
If you receive a robocall you believe to be illegal, report it. Here are several ways to do that.
- Federal Trade Commission: The FTC is the agency responsible for handling illegal robocalls in the U.S. You can file a complaint online.
- Federal Communications Commission: The FCC regulates telecommunications in the U.S. Complaints can be filed online.
- Your mobile service provider: Some providers offer options to report unwanted robocalls. Go to your provider’s website to see what reporting options are available.
Step 4: Never call back
You know not to answer an unidentified incoming call. Equally important, though, is to absolutely, positively never call back a missed call or robocall voicemail left on your phone. Just don’t do it.
Legitimate callers with a reason to contact you will call again or leave a voicemail recorded by a real person with specific information that makes sense to you. If you know the caller or the subject of the voicemail, go ahead and call them back. Ignore all the rest.
Returning a scammer’s call subjects you to the issues raised in step 2.
The Do Not Call List Won’t Help. Here’s Why
The National Do Not Call Registry is a great U.S. government initiative to reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive from legitimate telemarketers. The problem is, scammers placing robocalls are rarely—okay, never—legitimate.
They couldn’t care less about the registry or penalties for violating it. They know enforcement against them is virtually impossible.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put your number on the registry. It will, at the very least, reduce the number of robocalls you get overall. Visit donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 or TTY: 1-866-290-4236 to register your number. Once you do, if you do get an unwanted call, you can report the caller.