My fight against robocallers and telemarketers
(Note: If you use an iPhone, this probably won’t help you.)
I doubt there’s a single person among my readers who hasn’t been annoyed by robocallers, telemarketers, scammers, etc., who use our own phones (that we pay for) against us. And the state and federal “do not call” lists are a joke, obviously doing no good at all.
I endured such calls for years, contemplating total abandonment of my landline (which I keep for security reasons and because I can have extensions all over the house), or getting a new, unlisted number that I’d have to remember to distribute to everyone who needs it. And being unlisted doesn’t help when robodialers dial every conceivable number combination until they hit live ones.
Screening landline calls was no solution. I still had to put up with the ringing every time a call came in, and if I let it go to voicemail, the minimum number of rings on my particular phone is four.
I considered buying a separate call blocker device, but they are not inexpensive, sound complicated to set up, and most still ring at least once before a blocked caller is silenced. Robocallers will just spoof a different number and keep coming back. That was the problem with the new phone I bought. It could block something like 900 numbers, and every time an unwanted call came in, I had the distinct satisfaction of blocking the number. But, as I just noted, the callers will just spoof a different number next time.
I tried routing all calls to voice mail on Google voice because there I could set up custom answers for each group on my contact list, and one for unknown callers — and get emails advising me of all calls. But that meant forwarding all my calls to voice mail, even those I might want to answer; the forwarding happened too fast for me to pick up first.
I could abandon the landline and stick to the smartphone, with all its assorted call blocker apps, but again, I wanted to keep the landline. The smartphone call blocker apps still required that I enter numbers and/or area codes I wanted to block. Otherwise, they would ring through.
You can imagine my frustration when, according to my own call logs, I get anywhere from two to seven (2-7!) unwanted calls every day.
And then, a few months ago, came the light. My son suggested I try the call blocker app that he uses. It uses my contacts as a whitelist, and blocks everything else. But, you ask, what if it’s somebody who needs to reach me who isn’t in my contacts? Simple. The app sends all blocked calls to voicemail. Legitimate callers can then leave a message if they need to. Spammers, etc., almost always hang up without saying anything. I now forward all my landline calls to the cell phone, where the handy dandy blocker app deals with them. (Fortunately I can set my landline phone to not ring at all when it is call forwarding. As a result, the only ringing phone I ever hear is my smartphone, and then only when it’s someone on my contact list.)
Admittedly this puts me into the situation I really wanted to avoid — having to keep my smart phone nearby to answer incoming calls. But I’m slowly training myself to take it with me when I move from living area to bedroom or back; I don’t want to have to run to answer a call in the other end of the house. (There’s no rule that says I have to answer a ringing phone, but it’s a very long-standing habit and I doubt I’ll ever break it.)
The app is Blacklist Plus PRO by Vlad Lee. (There’s also a free version.) Sadly, as I was taking screen shots for this post, I realized it’s an Android app apparently not available on iPhones. I apologize for that. Surely there’s something similar for iPhones, a call blocker that works by whitelisting your contacts.
It’s worth looking into. The peace and quiet is absolutely amazing.