How to avoid spam calls and robocalls from unknown phone numbers

Are you frustrated with getting endless spam phone calls and robocalls on your mobile phone or landline? Spam calls are often the worst part of any day for home service professionals. If you feel that robocalls seem to evolve over time and are becoming more and more frequent, you are not alone. Did you know that there are over 200,000 formal complaints each year to the government. Estimates mark that nearly 4 billion robocalls occur per month (as of 2018).

Who is supposed to protect pros from unwanted calls - FCC and FTC

The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission oversee consumer protection around unwanted illegal and spoofed robocalls. The FCC does issue hundreds of millions of dollars in fines against robocallers and add names to their registry, but this doesn't capture everyone.

What are some of the top spam calls and texts to watch out for as a home service professional

  • Extended warranties: "Calling about your extended truck warranty"
  • Google listing: "Your  listing will be taken down unless you press 2"
  • Google
  • Requests to press a button: "Press a button to stop getting these calls"
  • Fake government agencies: "Inquiry from someone who says they represent a government agency" - these will almost always start with a written statement. Can check credentials by looking up the agency website.

What are some of the top unwanted calls that may not be spam, but that you might not have time for

  • Local SEO: "Are you the business owner of xyz.com? Calling about your local SEO presence online"
  • Business Insurance: "Are you the business owner of xyz.com? Calling to offer business insurance"
  • Direct Mail: "Are you the business owner of xyz.com? Do you currently need help getting more leads but don't want to subscribe to a lead generation site? You should try direct mail campaigns"

What can you do to prevent robocalls and spammers

Step 1: Educate yourself

  • Be aware of the common spam requests
  • Listen to your voicemail before calling back random phone numbers
  • Never give away personal information such as your social security number
  • Be aware that even callers with local area codes may be robocallers or those on a blacklist

Step 2: Block individual numbers

Actively block spam numbers after a call that you confirm the number is spam.

Block specific numbers on an iPhone. To do this you must go to your recent calls list → tap the "i" → "Block this caller" → "Block Contact"

Block specific numbers on an Android. The process can slightly vary depending on the model device and operating system. In general if you access the phone app and select recent calls or call history you can then tap the number you want to block. Once selected you can choose the command and tap block to help avoid nuisance calls and silence unknown callers.

Step 3: Take advantage of your carrier's features

Talk to your phone provider about call blocking tools and alerts to block robocalls. Here's some information on the most popular carriers:

AT&T Call Protect

There is a basic version of AT&T call protect for free for AT&T Mobility subscribers. There is also a Plus Version of Call Protect that enhances Caller ID and Reverse Number Lookup. This is available for $3.99 per month and provides a premium Caller ID.

Verizon Call Filter

There is a free version of the Call Filter for customers with compatible phones. The free version works to detect and filter out spam calls and warns you if an incoming call is likely spam. If you want to upgrade for $2.99 per month there is a paid version of the Call Filter app you can download in the Apple App Store or on Google Play if you have an Android phone.

T-Mobile ScamShield

There is a free scam block app through the Apple App Store for iOS and on the Google Play store as an Android app that is only for postpaid T-Mobile and Metro customers. Like other apps, it tries to identify spam call with an enhanced Caller ID feature that indicates a Number Verified Tag for legitimate call carriers. You can upgrade for $4 per month to ScamShield Premium.

Sprint

Sprint is now a part of T-Mobile and you can access the same tools to report spam and avoid spoofing.

Step 4: Register on federal do not call list

Register your number on the Do Not Call list to prevent telemarketing calls. Legitimate telemarketers consult the list to avoid calling landline and wireless numbers by law. This will not stop scammers and disreputable telemarketers from calling you.

Step 5: Look into third-party apps and VoIP phones that can help

Set up a ProPhone account which has pre-call spam screening and easy spam blocking following up wanted calls. With the ProPhone you do not need to revisit your contacts to block numbers. A simple popup following unknown calls enables easy call blocking at your finger tips.

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