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February 08, 2019

How to Stop Unwanted Calls on Your Cell Phone

unwanted phone calls

In recent years, there has been a huge uptick in the number of “robocalls” and other annoying, automated phone calls and text messages made to our cell phones. This is in large part due to advances in technology — according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “Internet powered phone systems make it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world, and to display fake caller ID information, which helps them hide from law enforcement.”

While it’s almost impossible to stop the calls completely, these simple steps, resources, and best practices can show you how to stop robocalls and messages, protecting you from any malicious scams.

Step 1: Get on the “Do Not Call” list

To get on the “Do Not Call” list, go to www.donotcall.gov and:

  • Click on “register”
  • Enter the phone numbers you want on the list
  • Provide your email address to verify your number
  • Watch for an email from register@donotcall.gov in your inbox (or spam folder)
  • Complete the steps as listed in the email.

Most legitimate companies will not call if you are on this list, so any calls you do still get are likely scams. If you receive a call, hang up and file a complaint with the FTC. Companies face a fine of up to $41,484 per call for violating the registry.

The “Do Not Call” list is solely for sales calls, so it won’t block everything. You will still be open to political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls, and telephone survey calls, as well as calls from companies you’ve done business with (or who you have given prior permission to contact you). Simply ask the caller not to call again, and they are required to honor that request.

Step 2: Block a number

If you get repeated calls from one number, you can ask your phone company to block it. You can also use your smartphone to block unwanted calls from specific numbers:

iPhone: Go into the Phone app, tap “Recents”, and tap the blue “i” symbol next to the number. Scroll down and find the option called “Block This Caller”.

Samsung device: Go into the Phone app, select the number to block, tap “More”, and choose “Add to Auto-Reject List”. You can access this list in Settings>Call Settings>All Calls>Auto Reject.

LG: Go into the Phone app, press and hold the offending number, select “Block Contact”, and hit “OK”. You can access your blocked list through the People app. You can also add numbers to the list by going to Settings > Networks > Call > Decline and Reject Calls > Reject Calls From then selecting the numbers to block from your call logs.

These steps only work for specific numbers. If you get a high volume of unwanted calls, you might consider downloading a call blocking app such as Nomorobo for $1.99 a month with a 14-day free trial, or check out this list of recommended apps.

Step 3: Protect your number

Prevent your number from getting in to the hands of spam callers by following these steps and best practices:

  • Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t know. Ignore them, or if you do answer, hang up right away. Never press any button to opt out of future messages or give the caller a piece of your mind, because this just confirms to them that your number is real and opens you up to more calls.
  • Do not put your number on social media or anywhere online.
  • Have a password on your voicemail to keep spammers from trying to hack into it.
  • Hide your number when making certain calls. If you regularly call places that you would rather not give your number to, Xfinity Mobile offers Caller ID Blocking. Just enter *67 before dialing, and the person you dial will see either "Restricted" or "No Caller ID" when they receive a call from you.
  • To enable Caller ID Blocking on all outgoing calls for a specific Xfinity Mobile line, call (888) 936-4968 to have it turned on.

Step 4: Call back

If you get an unsolicited call from a company you do business with asking for money or saying there is a problem with your account/computer/service, hang up and call the number on your most recent bill or on the company’s website to confirm the issue. Most legitimate companies will not call you unsolicited.

Robocalls don’t need to be a daily problem. These simple steps and best practices offer advice on how to stop spam calls, and keep you safe from unwanted scams.