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How to block spam calls on iOS and Android phones

We’ve got all the apps you need to avoid robocalls for the foreseeable future.

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It’s not just you: spam calls are more prevalent than ever, and more difficult to stop, too.

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Technological advances have made it near-impossible to escape robocalls. One center can make millions of calls a day — and they are generally profitable for scammers, so they’re not going away any time soon, either.

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$59.4M

People reported falling for scam calls between June 2020 and June 2021.

TrueCaller

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The FTC says it takes spam calls seriously, but its resources for actually stopping them are…slim. “Just block ‘em and report ‘em” only goes so far without any actual recommendations.

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Like the common cold, fighting spam calls isn’t easy — but we can minimize their effects on our daily lives. We have some recommendations on how to best do so without losing your mind...

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Carrier-specific apps

Often the least expensive and pain-free spam-blocking methods are provided right through your provider. These apps are usually included in your plan at no charge, with premium services available for an upcharge.

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AT&T offers an app called Call Protect that auto-blocks calls marked as spam in its databases.

You can also report numbers that slip through, along with notes, or send all unknown callers straight to voicemail.

Download it on iOS or Android.

T-Mobile’s version of spam protection is called Scam Shield.

Similar to AT&T’s app, it offers automatic spam detection using AI and an extensive database. You can also filter by call type, so it’s possible to allow charity calls while blocking all other nuisance and telemarketing calls, for example.

Download it on iOS or Android.

Verizon offers a very similar app called Call Filter.

It allows filtering by risk level; you can send potential spam calls to voicemail or terminate them altogether.

Download it on iOS or Android.

Third-party apps

If free offerings aren’t cutting it, there are plenty of other apps created to avoid robocalls.

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Robokiller

At $3.99 per month, Robokiller’s stellar reputation is definitely worth the cost, if you’re really bogged down by spam calls. You can screen calls with real-time transcription — something most free apps don’t offer.

Oh, and you can also let Ice-T (yes, that Ice-T) answer spam calls for you, if you so desire.

Download it on iOS or Android.

Hiya

Hiya also has a remarkable reputation for blocking spam calls and focuses on reporting them so other users can avoid the same numbers in the future. It’s $3.99 per month as well, though you can also buy a yearly plan at a significant discount of $24.99.

Download it on iOS or Android.

TrueCaller

TrueCaller has been around for more than a decade and boasts more than 250 million active users around the world. At $4.49 per month, it’s slightly more expensive to use than the other offerings on this list. It also includes a “smart lookup” database that provides info on any phone number.

Download it on iOS or Android.

Check with your carrier

Apps are useful for blocking most robocalls, but they can’t capture everything. If you’re dealing with repeated, targeted harrassment from a spam company, for example, it’s worth logging into the web portal for your carrier — or calling them directly — to flag the problem.

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Bonus for Pixel owners

Pixel phones are a step ahead of the rest of the crowd in blocking spam. Pixel owners can turn on a feature called “Call Screen” that will transcribe the audio of unknown calls before you pick them up.

Turn on Call Screen in the Pixel’s Phone app settings by navigating to the Spam and Call Screen menu.

Add yourself to the Do Not Call database

No matter your preferred method of spam-blocking, it’s a good idea to add your name to the National Do Not Call registry. Technically it only covers telemarketers, so it won’t stop everything — and even telemarketers ignore the registry at times. Still, it’s easy and free, so it’s worth adding your name there nonetheless.

You can add your name at DoNotCall.gov.

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