One of life's great annoyances is receiving an unwanted phone call on a Sunday night at 8 p.m., just as you sit down to dinner. In recent years, telephone sales reps have gone to extremes, resulting in thousands of complaints to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). So how can you stop spam calls once and for all? Here are some ideas that will work in the United States, some of which can also be applied no matter where you live.
Method 1 of 2: Stop calls at the source
Step 1. Register with the National Registry to stop unwanted calls
This registry, for residents of the United States, has a list of telephone numbers, whose owners refuse to receive unsolicited calls from sales agents. Register your phone number by calling (888) 382-1222 or online at www.donotcall.gov.
- The Federal Trade Commission created this list in 2003, which can reduce the number of unsolicited sales calls by approximately 80 percent.
Some types of organizations are not required to pay attention to the National Registry to stop unwanted calls. Among these we have:
- Calls from organizations with which you have established a business relationship
- Calls from organizations that you have previously given written permission to call you
- Calls that are not commercial or do not include unsolicited advertising
- Tax-exempt nonprofit calls
Step 2. Call your phone company and ask to speak to the "nuisance department."
This specialized department can put a lock on your phone line, which will prevent specific people from contacting you.
Step 3. Put your phone number on the "do not call" lists of specific companies
If you get routine calls from the same companies, you can tell the sales agents to remove your name and number from their calling list. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that your number be removed from the company's lists for 5 years.
Step 4. Use a search engine to find out who is calling you
If you are unsure of the source of a certain number that is listed, do a search to find out. Entering an unknown number into a search engine can give you some clues about its owner. Many online reporting services also allow you to report and share your experience with other users.
Method 2 of 2: Block calls on your phone
Step 1. Install a call blocking application on your cell phone
Even though telemarketers are supposed to reveal their phone numbers, many unknown caller blocking apps are a good way to spot callers you don't want to hear from again. If you use an iPhone or Android phone, there are apps that automatically block calls from hidden numbers.
- Call Control is the most popular Android application for blocking sales agents over the phone.
- Call Bliss is the most popular iPhone app for blocking calls from unknown numbers.
Step 2. Change your phone settings
Both Android phones and iPhones have options that allow you to receive calls only from certain numbers. The downside is that if an organization or person you really want to know about has an unknown number, you won't get the call. If you receive an excessive amount of calls from unknown spam numbers each day, this might be a good option.
- You can set your Android to privacy mode, so that you only receive calls from people you pre-approve from your contact list.
- Use the "Do not disturb" mode on your iPhone. Calls from around the world can be muted, except for the ones you have selected in your contact list.
Step 3. Use the TrapCall service
TrapCall is a paid service that forces the caller to show the number of the caller. TrapCall is the most popular service and works with landlines as well as iPhone and Android.
Step 4. Subscribe to personalized calling services for your landline
Your phone company offers a range of call screening and blocking services. These types of services have a monthly cost. Call your phone company to see what options are available to you. Services such as Call Screen (call forwarding), Priority Ringing (special ringtone for certain numbers), and Call Return (recording and redialing the last number that called you) are normally available in most states.
- Call Screen can be configured to block calls from specific numbers by diverting them to a pre-recorded message that will tell them that you will not answer their call.
- Priority Ringing lets you set special ringtones for certain numbers, so you know if you want to answer them without looking at your phone.
- Call Return allows you to call the last person who called you even if their number was listed as "private" or "not available".
Step 5. Buy an incoming call blocker for your landline phone
Incoming call blockers force the caller to enter a code in order to reach you. This will block calls from all people who do not have your personal code. While this can cause your friends, family, and acquaintances to have a lot of trouble contacting you, it could be worth it if there are attorneys constantly harassing you.
- Be courteous to your phone company about spam calls you receive. It is not their fault and they will be much more willing to help you stop unwanted calls if you are kind.
- If someone calls you, just ask that person for their business address. This stops the calls of about 95 percent of telemarketers and 100 percent of fraudulent calls.
- If a machine calls you, just press the number 1 until the other party hangs up.
- Be careful when using the Call Return service, as the person you are calling can be hostile if they do not expect you to confront them regarding unwanted calls.
- An incoming call blocker prevents anyone without a special code from calling you. This means that you can also block emergency calls.
- If the spam call meets the definition of harassment, such as when the person calls you multiple times using inappropriate or threatening language, call authorities to file a formal report.