Tools to Fight the Robocallers

Although it seems like we’re losing the battle against robocallers, you don’t have to sit idly by while they take over your phone lines. Use these tools to block, identify and control unwanted calls.

They can help you by…

  • Comparing incoming calls with a database of known spammers and suspicious callers.
  • Using technology to determine if the incoming call is coming from the real number or a spoofed one.
  • Putting an interactive barrier between you and the caller.
  • Digging deeper for the real caller ID.

Your Carrier’s Tools

Different carriers take steps to stop calls from ever reaching your line. They’re starting to rely on a technology called STIR/SHAKEN, which verifies that the calls are real and not spoofed (coming from a faked number to make it look familiar or legit).

  • T-Mobile’s Call Verified is free for subscribers.
  • Sprint offers Premium Caller ID for $2.99 a month. And it could be that this is the same tool that Boost and Virgin offer for about the same price. They both also use Premium Caller ID as the name of their service.
  • AT&T has Call Protect for $3.99 a month plus a free level that offers spam and scam protection. AT&T also partnered with Comcast to verify calls as legitimate between the two services with STIR/SHAKEN.
  • Verizon’s Call Filter app has a new free version as of a few days ago, but it’s kinda sneaky. When you sign up, they tell you you’re in a free trial. It’s not obvious that there’s a standard free version that won’t go away, but I wrote to them and they said after the free trial you can decline the $2.99/month upgrade.

Your Phones

Your smartphone itself may have some tools that help identify and block robocalls and spam. Google has a feature called Call Screen, ‘which will give a warning if a suspected spam call comes in. Call Screen is available on Pixel phones and is rolling out to Nokia and Motorola phones. This technology seems so cool that today I broke down and ordered a Pixel 3 so I could play with it.

Samsung Galaxy phones also have a built-in function called Smart Call.

And as for poor iPhone users and other phone owners, you have to use a third-party app or one of the carrier tools above. Or you can block unknown callers via your settings, and then block spammers one by one.

Third-Party Apps

These kinds of apps have historically been very effective in identifying and blocking spammers, but now they’re less effective. But it doesn’t hurt to have these to catch as many bad calls as you can. Most have free versions with modestly priced upgrades.

Apps

  • Nomorobo (a classic)
  • Hiya (people always mention this one in sessions)
  • Truecaller (my favorite)
  • Mr Number (they just started charging for caller ID and made everyone mad)
  • RoboKiller (this one is a paid app, but I love that it has a robot answer service that will keep a spammer talking and waste his time).

Phone Screening Services

  • YouMail (my colleague Jess uses this and loves it)
  • Google Voice (lets you screen calls, which cuts down on automated calls and lets you avoid telemarketers)

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