How to stop robocalls and other spam calls from reaching your Android phone

There are a variety of tools you can use to block spam callers on Android.

caption
There are a variety of tools you can use to block spam callers on Android.
source
Henry Nicholls/Reuters

  • There are several ways you can stop your Android phone from receiving robocalls or spam calls.
  • According to research, in 2019, nearly 50% of mobile calls will be spam, with most of those initiated by robocallers.
  • Here are a few tools you can use to stem the endless tide of robocalls reaching your Android phone.

Save for those coming from recognized political organizations, robocalls – unsolicited and randomized phone calls initiated by computer-controlled autodialers – are illegal in the United States. Yet many people can get up to a half dozen spam calls coming into their mobile phones each day.

According to research from the communications security firm First Orion, as recently as 2017, just 3.7% of all cellphone calls placed were automated “spam” calls. By 2018, spam calls represented 29.2% of all calls. In 2019, nearly half of all cellphone calls are likely to be scams, according to the firm.

If these annoying calls are wearing on your last nerve, it’s time you fight back and try to stop them – or at least reduce the volume of calls blowing up your phone daily.

If you use an Android phone, there are several ways to help prevent spam calls from reaching your phone. But first, take a minute and do something all of us should do, whether we’re Android, iPhone, or classic landline users: join the national Do No Call Registry.

How to join the national Do Not Call Registry

The Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry is not a surefire way to avoid autodialers. But it is a way to give yourself potential legal recourse against the companies behind the robocalls.

Add yourself to the National Do Not Call Registry to stop getting spam calls from reputable marketers.

caption
Add yourself to the National Do Not Call Registry to stop getting spam calls from reputable marketers.
source
Dave Johnson/Business Insider

If you receive unwanted spam calls a month following your registration (or 31 days, to be precise), you can file a formal complaint with the FTC and pursue legal action against those initiating the calls, if you can figure out who that is.

1. Go to DoNotCall.gov and hit the “Register” link.

2. Enter your phone number without hyphens (you can register three at a time, in fact) and your email address (for confirmation).

3. Go to your email and find the message from Register@donotcall.gov within 72 hours of your submission.

4. Follow the steps within the email to complete the registration process

Joining the Do Not Call Registry will likely reduce the number of spam calls you get, as any law abiding businesses will respect the list and leave you alone. But most robocalls these days come from groups that couldn’t care less about the rules, so there are more steps for you to take.

Block individual numbers on Android phones

Blocking a phone number on Android won’t stop every robocall ever again, but it will put a full stop to incoming calls from each individual number you block, so it’s worth the few seconds it takes after each spam number rings in.

1. Tap the caller’s name/number.

2. Hold (AKA long press) the caller, then hit whatever variation of “Block/Report Spam” pops up on the screen.

It’s worth taking the time to block calls, but it’s likely not going to be enough, as scammers are likely to flood your phone with a slew of different phone numbers.

Upgrade your phone’s plan for spam protection from your carrier

The major mobile carriers offer enhanced protection against spam calls from known scammers, though you will probably have to pay for it.

  • Sprint offers Premium Caller ID for $2.99 per month. The service flags suspicious calls as they come in and makes it easy to block them, though it does not actually stop the calls from coming in at all.
  • T-Mobile offers Scam Block, a free service that, once activated, blocks any calls from numbers the carrier has recognized as a nuisance. Just dial #ONB# (#662#) from a T-Mobile phone to turn it on. (And to turn it back off, should you want to, dial #632#)
  • And Verizon offers Call Filter for $2.99 each month. Like Sprint’s service, this app identifies likely spam calls and assigns a fraud potential meter, then makes it easy to reject and block the caller.

Download a robocall blocking app

The best way to stop robocalls on Android is to be proactive and install a spam call-blocking app. Such apps actually intercept and answer calls for you, so they never ring through and annoy you (or expose you to a scam).

Many of these apps also actively collect data on spammers, blocking them permanently once they have been identified, so by using a robocall blocking app, you’re helping yourself and the rest of us.

Here are two acclaimed apps that you could try:

  • Nomorobo costs just $1.99 per month for mobile Android phones, and a free version exists for VoIP landlines.
  • RoboKiller costs $2.99 per month, and it comes with a truly delightful feature: it deploys its own bots who use carefully crafted pre-recorded messages to keep scam callers on the line as long as possible, wasting their time and preventing them from calling others.

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech: