Avast Academy Security Scams How to Block Spam Calls on Your Phone

How to Block Spam Calls on Your Phone

Spam calls are more than just a minor annoyance — they can be used aggressively to target you and lure you into scams. That’s why you should know how to avoid spam by identifying and blocking unwanted calls. Learn how to stop spam calls and strengthen your defenses with a comprehensive online security app like Avast One.

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Written by Anthony Freda
Published on April 24, 2023

What is a spam call?

Spam calls are unwanted calls made to a large number of people from an unknown source. Spam phone calls often try to trick you to get money or information out of you. Telemarketing, robocalls, spoofing, and IRS and insurance scams are a few of the different types of spam calls.

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    Generally, the less you engage with spam, the fewer spam calls you’ll get. Answering a spam call can lead to your number being added to a list of numbers that commonly pick up, respond, or fall for scams. These numbers may then be targeted more frequently, because fraudsters think they’re the most likely to offer sensitive information, whether accidentally or on purpose.

    How to block spam calls once and for all?

    You can block spam calls by silencing all unknown callers on your phone, installing spam-filtering apps, and registering your number on the national Do Not Call Registry (call 1-888-382-1222 or 1-866-290-4236 for TTY callers). This will help stop scam calls, robocalls, and unwanted calls from getting through to your phone. It’s also a way to help stop scammers from calling you in the future.

    Let’s look at what number blocks spam calls, how to block numbers on iPhone and Android, and examine other effective call-blocking strategies and tips.

    And remember that in addition to calls, it’s important to know how to stop spam emails and stop spam text messages as well.

    Is there a code to block spam calls?

    There is no universal number to block spam calls — it depends on your phone carrier. T-Mobile users can prevent robocalls for free by dialing #662# and turning on the Scam ID and Scam Block features. AT&T customers can block unwanted calls by dialing *61, or by dialing *60 on their landline.

    Does *61 block unwanted calls?

    If you have a digital home phone with AT&T, *61 blocks unwanted calls as part of their free Call Blocking service. Press *61 then the “call” button to add the last call you received to your blocked call list. To stop receiving calls from all private numbers (calls without caller ID), dial *77. These callers will then receive a message that you don't accept calls from private numbers. You can unblock these calls by dialing *87.

    How to block spam calls on iPhone?

    Stop spam calls on your iPhone by blocking each unknown caller individually or disabling calls from all unknown numbers. Blocking all unknown numbers can help prevent risky spam calls, including tech support scams, but it also may prevent legitimate unknown callers from getting through, because every number is blocked except for those that you’ve interacted with in the past.

    So if you know that you sometimes need to take calls from people you don’t know, you should opt to block callers individually, or stop spam calls using an alternative method.

    Block individual unknown callers

    Here’s how to block an individual phone number on an iPhone:

    1. Go to the Phone app and find the number you want to block. You can usually find it in the Recents list, but it might also be in Contacts, Favorites, or Voicemail, depending on your contact history with the number. Tap the i icon next to the number.

      A view of the recent call history on an iPhone. The "i" icon next to a number is highlighted.
    2. Scroll and tap Block this Caller.

      The information for a phone number is shown, with "Block this caller" highlighted.
    3. Tap Block Contact to confirm.

       A button saying "Block Contact" is highlighted.

    That’s how to block unknown calls one by one on your iPhone. You may also want to know how to block all unknown numbers on iPhone, which you can do by filtering.

    Block all unknown callers

    If you’re getting a lot of spam calls every day, you can filter all calls from numbers you don’t know. This will help protect against phone spoofing, where numbers appear to be from real companies or sources, but in reality they’re fake.

    Here’s how to filter and block all unknown and private numbers on an iPhone:

    1. Go to Settings and scroll to Phone.

      A view of Settings, with Phone highlighted.
    2. Scroll and tap Silence Unknown Callers.

      Silence Unknown Callers is highlighted.
    3. Slide the toggle On (so that the green part is showing).

      The toggle next to Silence Unknown Callers is highlighted.

    Now, only numbers in your Contacts can call you, as well as numbers that you’ve previously engaged with. Your iPhone will also allow numbers that appear in your text messages app or in WhatsApp. That helps ensure legit numbers get through, while weeding out totally unknown numbers. You can still see all attempted calls in your Recents lists.

    How to block spam calls on Android phones

    There are different methods for blocking spam calls on Android devices. And you can choose to block all unknown numbers or mark individual calls separately as spam.

    Here’s how to stop spam calls on Android:

    Use the caller ID and spam protection feature

    The caller ID and spam protection feature helps users get information about callers or businesses not in their contacts list. It also gives warnings about potential spam callers. This feature is usually on by default, and you can tell your Android to block these numbers entirely.

    Follow the steps below to turn on or off the caller ID and spam protection feature.

    1. Open the Phone app on your device.

    2. Tap the more options icon (three dots). Then tap Settings > Spam and Call Screen.

      Using the more options icon to get to Settings, then the Spam and Call Screen
    3. Turn on or off Caller ID and spam protection. Then tap Block numbers > toggle on Block spam and scam calls.

      Tapping Block Numbers will let you toggle on Block Spam and scam calls

    Once you do this, you will only see the filtered calls in your Call History or Voicemail. They won't appear as missed calls. If you’re wondering how to unblock spam calls on Android, slide the toggle off in the last step.

    Mark individual calls as spam

    Here’s how to block individual numbers by marking them as spam.

    1. Open the Phone app and select Recents.

      Recents highlighted in the phone app
    2. Tap the number you want to block, and select Info (i).

    3. Tap Report, then select the spam call type associated with the number. Tap OK.

      Report is highlighted and OK
    4. Tap Block on the info screen.

      Block is highlighted

    Alternative ways to stop spam calls

    Along with using the features built into your iPhone or Android, there are other ways to prevent spam calls from reaching your phone. These include a national registry, your phone carrier’s service, and third-party apps.

    Here’s how to make spam calls stop using these methods.

    Register your number on the Do Not Call Registry

    Telemarketers use a public contact list when making their calls. The Do Not Call Registry removes your number from that list. While this method reduces these types of spam calls, you might still get unwanted calls from politicians, charities, debt collectors, and other unknown callers.

    Register your number on the Do Not Call Registry for free by calling 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY). You can also do it online.

    Here’s how to stop spam callers by getting on the Do Not Call Registry:

    1. Go to the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry website and click the Register link.

    2. Enter your phone number without hyphens. You can register three numbers at a time. Enter your email address for confirmation.

    3. Open the confirmation email within 72 hours of your submission.

    4. Follow the steps in the email to complete the process.

    Use your cell phone carrier’s spam-blocking tools

    Most phone carriers use machine learning to detect suspicious calls, and they’ll usually display the message “spam risk” or “scam likely” when you receive one. You should ignore these calls and block them. Know how to block “scam likely” calls on Android or iPhone before you receive one — it’s the same process as blocking individual numbers above.

    Phone carriers like AT&T and Verizon have additional spam-blocking mechanisms, too. Some of these are free to use and help you automatically block unwanted calls, robocalls, and spam calls.

    AT&T has the ActiveArmor app, which is free to install and helps block spam calls. You can upgrade to access advanced features. Verizon’s Call Filter also gives you a basic option for free or you can pay for more features. Check with your provider to see if they have something similar.

    Get a reliable third-party protection tool

    Apps like Call Filter (on Google Play) or Robo Shield Spam Call Blocker (in the App Store) are designed to catch and stop spam calls. Scam call blocker apps all use different methods to detect and block spam calls, so try a few until you find one that works best for you. Check the reviews and Google the name of the app to make sure it’s not malware.

    When choosing spam-blocking software, look for tools with anti-tracking features to stop advertisers from tracking your online activities.

    Why am I getting so many spam calls?

    You’re likely getting spam calls because someone got hold of your phone number. You may have unwittingly entered it where you shouldn’t have, or a company sold your information. If you pick up spam calls, you may be more likely to receive even more spam calls in the future.

    If you’re still wondering, “Why do random numbers call me?” here’s how it starts:

    • You entered your phone number where you shouldn’t have.

    • Your number was exposed in a data leak.

    • You engaged with a scammer online and inadvertently gave up your phone number.

    • Your number was dialed randomly.

    • You picked up a spam call in the past.

    Scammers randomly test phone numbers to support their malicious activities. Sometimes, they buy numbers from companies, which may include companies you’ve used in the past. Or, fraudsters can get numbers from data breaches.

    That’s how it starts. But the floodgates truly open as soon as you pick up even one scam call or unknowingly hand over your number to a scammer.

    Spam callers may call and pretend to be someone you know or that you used to know. They’ll say their name like they know you — “Hey, remember me? It’s Tom!” — and you’ll automatically think of a Tom you haven’t spoken to in a long time. They’ll keep the conversation vague — using publicly available info about you from, say, social media — so you don’t realize they’re faking. That’s just one type of social engineering trick. Phishing is another.

    Know the risks of answering calls and whether your phone can get hacked through a call. But even if you’re as careful as possible, you need to beef up your online security, because spam calls are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to scams.

    Strengthen your online security to help avoid unwanted calls

    We use the internet every day and freely give our information to use services like meal delivery and dating apps. Your number has already been disseminated through many different channels, some of which might lead to a scam.

    Strengthen your internet security and privacy, so you can use your phone without worrying. Avast One is a great pick, because it’s an all-in-one security suite. Not only does it come with an active antivirus engine to detect and remove malicious software; it also checks for data breaches so you can find out if your credentials have been exposed in a leak. Plus, it features a built-in VPN to help encrypt your online communications. Install Avast One today — completely free.

    Fight spam, block malware, and prevent threats with Avast One

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    Fight spam, block malware, and prevent threats with Avast One

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    Anthony Freda