Consumer Handbook: Robocall Blocking Apps

Sep 23, 2020

Credit Daniel Grothe/Flickr, License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

In recent years, the amount of robocalls consumers receive each month has skyrocketed. Because of this, many people are turning to robocall blocking apps to cut down on the amount of unwanted calls they receive.

According to Federal Trade Commission regulations, in the United States, only a few kinds of robocalls are legal. They include informational messages, messages from health care providers, debt collection calls, political messages, and messages for charities. The great majority of robocalls consumers receive are, in fact, illegal. 

Robocall blocking apps are available from most major cell phone provider companies as well as from third-party app developers. Call blocking apps are essentially filters. App companies use call data and user reports to identify or predict which calls are illegal or come from scammers. Using this information, most apps give you the option to block flagged callers and anonymous calls from “unknown” callers, pre-screen your calls before the phone rings, and receive warnings about numbers that are using fake caller ID information.

Robocall blocking apps are generally effective at blocking most robocalls, but they won’t eliminate robocalls completely. To cut down on the amount of robocalls you receive, register your telephone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry or List. 

If you don’t recognize a number, or the caller ID appears as “unknown,” don’t pick up the phone. Watch out for neighbor spoofing. Many scammers use numbers conspicuously similar to your own to try to convince you to answer the call. Ask your phone service provider what they do to block illegal robocalls. If you answer an illegal robocall by accident, hang up immediately.