How to stop spam calls: Robocalls are out of control, but you can do something about it – CNET

Spam calls don’t seem to be going away, but we’ll walk you through how to make them pester you less.
You should have started to see a reduction in robocalls, or at the least, have a better idea of who’s calling you.
No matter if you own an iPhone or an Android, you’ve probably experienced at least one pesky spam call. Although sometimes robocalls look to be from authentic phone numbers, they leave intimidating messages claiming to be from your bank, the IRS or other government agencies. Some even threaten you with jail time over not paying your taxes or student loans. But no matter what the calls say, one thing is for sure: They need to stop. 
Spam calls have been an annoyance for years now, especially in the US. This year alone Americans are expected to get over 52 billion robocalls, according to YouMail, a company specializing in blocking robocalls. 
Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission aimed to wrangle the robocall problem by requiring major wireless carriers to start using Stir/Shaken technology. Stir/Shaken verifies all incoming and outgoing calls for wireless carriers that are routed through their networks. By verifying each call, carriers can reduce the number of fake or spoofed calls. But it only stops robocalls on one avenue — it’s not the means to an end. You may still get spam calls for free trips or fake notices that your student loan payment is overdue. 
Read more: CNET’s interview with FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel
You can read more about Stir/Shaken here, and keep reading this story for things you can do to help curb the number of times your phone rings throughout the day with calls from potential fraudsters.
According to the FCC, there are some easy steps you can take to help reduce robocalls:
When you answer a call and interact with the voice prompt or by pressing a number, it lets spammers know your number is real. They can then sell your number to another company or begin targeting your number more frequently.
When it first launched, Google’s Call Screen feature arguably went against the FCC’s advice by answering and interacting with the robocall on your behalf. However, Google added new features to Call Screen for its Pixel phone lineup. The feature can now detect robocalls and spam calls, and block them before they ever reach your phone. Google Assistant will interact with the caller, and if it determines that the call is legitimate, it will route the call to your phone.
Apple’s iPhone has an option to Silence Unknown Callers, which adds the option to route calls from numbers not found in your Contacts, Mail or Messages straight to voicemail. Any legitimate callers can leave a message. But that’s the rub: We often receive important calls from numbers we don’t store on our phones, like a doctor’s office or a repairman, so you could miss important calls this way. But if all else fails and you’re desperate to stop robocalls, this is a valid option.
If you find yourself receiving a lot of spam text messages, you can forward the message to the number 7726 (which spells “spam”). It won’t stop the number from texting you right away, but it will allow your carrier to look into where it came from and put an end to it.
Call screening is a feature on Google’s Pixel phones. 
All four major wireless carriers offer some sort of call-blocking feature. All have a free option and a premium tier. But let’s be frank, all robocall-blocking services should be free. This shouldn’t be a way for carriers to make some money off of us. 
Use a different wireless carrier? I suggest calling its customer support or visiting its website to see if it offers a similar service. 
Firewall takes a new approach to stopping spam and robocalls from ever reaching your phone. 
If your provider doesn’t offer an app or service to cut back on robocalls, or does but it’s too expensive, there are plenty of third-party apps available. You want to find an app that works on your device, offers automatic call blocking and spam alerts for suspicious calls and makes it easy to report a number if a call slips through.
Hiya is a free app I have used on Android and iOS for some time now with success. It’s from the same company that powers AT&T’s Call Protect app, as well as Samsung’s built-in call block and spam protection service. Samsung Galaxy owners can enable the built-in service in the Phone app under Settings > Caller ID and Spam Protection. Setup is painless, and it offers an easy way to report a number.
Nomorobo is the service that Verizon uses for its Fios users, but it also has a phone app. The service is free for VoIP users and costs $2 per month for mobile users. Additional services with similar capabilities include YouMail and RoboKiller.
Hiya offers robust call screening. 
The Firewall app is only available on the iPhone and does a fantastic job of blocking calls. In the event you need to make a call that you’d rather not use your real phone number for, the $4-a-month subscription provides unlimited single-use fake phone numbers. 
Another option is to sign up for a free Google Voice phone number that you can use to sign up for things instead of giving out your real number — and once the robocalls start coming in on that Google Voice number, use the block feature. Just know that blocking calls may end up being a lot of work, as robocallers are constantly spoofing different phone numbers.
None of the above solutions is perfect, but they supplement the carrier’s integration of technology now required to check for caller ID spoofing. So right now you have to do some extra work to keep the number of robocalls you receive to a minimum. Between being cautious about calls from unknown numbers and using a service (paid or free), you can reduce the amount of unwanted calls and spam you have to deal with.
In sum, carriers have started using Stir/Shaken technology to verify callers, which should cut down on the number of robocalls we all receive. For those with an iPhone, learn where the setting is to block unknown callers, but remember using it could mean you miss calls from doctors’ offices and the like. And for those with a Pixel phone, Google’s Call Screen feature will surely help, and may even entertain you.

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