Android Tip: Block Calls and Texts
A reader asks: 'I am really tired of hearing from “Heather in Account Services” and all the other telephone scammers, robotic or human. I’m also tired of folks who repeatedly dial the wrong number, debt collectors who won’t believe “Sharon” doesn’t own my phone, and miscellaneous other nuisances that light up my phone. Oh, and phishing texts, too. What can I do to block unwanted calls and text messages on my Android smartphone?"
How to Block Unwanted Callers
Telemarketers have gotten more sophisticated in the past year. Instead of just blasting out recorded messages, they've started using software that simulates human interaction. The "caller" will ask a question, pause for your response, and then continue on. I actually got into an embarrassing argument with “Heather” before I realized that she was a relentless automaton whose sole mission was to sign me up for a free cruise. I hung up, and looked for a way to block that number from calling again.
Carriers have begun to bow to pressure from customers and the FCC to provide call-blocking services. AT&T has a free call-blocking app that works with iPhone 6 or above, and with Android phones that are compatible with AT&T’s HD Voice. T-mobile provides a free service on certain phones that blocks calls or texts from numbers in a large database. Sprint and Verizon charge extra for call blocking.
But call-blocking has been a feature of the Android operating system since v5.0 (Lollipop, released 2014). (Not sure what version of Android your phone is running? Click Settings, then About Phone, and you'll see the "Android Version" listed there.) To access Call-blocking on an Android phone running Lollipop, open the Phone app and go to Call Settings > Call Rejection > Auto Reject List. Enter the phone number you wish to block, and you’re done.
For newer phones running Android Marshmallow (v6.0) or Nougat (v7.0), open the Phone app, go to your recent calls list, find the number you want to block and select Block/Report Spam. If you don’t want to report the number as spam, uncheck the “spam” box. Then tap Block.
Text messages are a separate matter. If you use Android's Messenger app for texting, press and hold the name or number that sent you the message on your message list until a dialogue window opens. Then select Block/Report Spam. Uncheck the “spam” box if you don’t want to report that number, then click Block. (This may not work on older Android versions.)
That’s a lot of work to block one number. Fortunately, there are some Android apps that make call blocking easier. Some can do tricks like blocking all “private” numbers or all numbers in a given area code, making them even more powerful.
Call and Text Blocking Apps
Should I Answer can block specific numbers or all numbers except those in your Contacts database. But it’s real strength is a community-sourced database of spam or scam numbers submitted by the app’s users, along with their notes on what type of unwanted call came from each number. You don’t have to submit every number you block to the community database. This app can also block calls from hidden or “private” numbers, premium numbers, and foreign countries. Also, it’s free!
Extreme Call Blocker costs $4.99, but it has features that Should I Answer lacks. It can send unrecognized calls to voicemail, pick up and hang up automatically, or just mute the ringer. You can also use this app to block outgoing calls, and it has a stealth mode that hides the app. It’s now integrated with the FCC’s database of reported scam and robocall numbers for even greater protection.
TrueCaller is another app for blocking both unwanted calls and texts. I like this app because it's free and it adds crowd-sourced caller-id to your incoming calls. TrueCaller also uses a continuously updated database of spammers, scammers and telemarketers to identify and reject those numbers. I love it when a call shows up on my phone, and the caller-id says "Loan Scam," "Timeshare Spammer" or something like that
Hiya is a similar app that some AskBob readers have said works well for them. It can block calls and text messages, or blacklist unwanted numbers. Free, and available on both Android and iPhone.
Do you use call-blocking on your Android mobile phone? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 22 Aug 2017
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Android Tip: Block Calls and Texts (Posted: 22 Aug 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved