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Old 01-08-2020, 01:56 PM
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Unwanted calls- a good app to block them?


I've had this cell phone number for over 6 years. I still get calls and texts on a daily basis for someone named Daniel, who apparently had this number before. They're companies looking to sell him something or collect on a debt. I get calls on a near-daily basis from "Bank of America's Chinese voice department" which then talks to me in Chinese for about 20 seconds, repeats, then hangs up (if I don't hang up in the first 5 seconds, which I do of course). I get robocalls claiming to be calling for the last time (if only!) to help me lower my credit card interest rates. I don't have a credit card. Today, someone called and asked if I could hear them. I said, 'Yes." and they hung up. That's apparently a scam, according to my google search, but it's difficult to say if they're gonna hit me, or Daniel.

I get three times more unwanted calls than I do calls that are actually calling FOR ME, and that's not counting the unwanted texts. I block all text and voice numbers as they call/text, but they just keep on coming, to the point where, six years later, I'm here asking for help.

Is there any way to reduce this? I already signed up for the national do not call list. I've sometimes toyed with the idea of getting a new number, but if they're still calling here for Daniel after six years, I'm afraid of what a new number will bring. I don't give out my number willy-nilly, only to a small handful of people, doctors, hospitals, and a handful of businesses I purchase from, like Amazon.

Do you use a blocking app on your phone and do you recommend it? I used one a long time ago, but I didn't like it. It seemed a lot of work. I can't block all unknown callers, because I get legit, important calls from companies, hospitals and gov't agencies and I don't know all their numbers.
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Old 01-08-2020, 02:52 PM
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The app I use is "enough will power to avoid answering the call if I don't recognize the number". If it is a genuine phone call for someone who is really trying to talk to me, they'll leave a message.

Plenty of robocalls leave messages too, but that's the price I'll pay to insure that I don't block something important. I have all the spam filters turned of on my email too - I would rather delete a hundred emails than miss the legitimate one that ended up my spam folder.
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Old 01-08-2020, 03:16 PM
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I've had the same number for over 20 years and also get at least 10 spam calls per day. The Do Not Call Registry is a joke (or maybe it's working and preventing me from getting 50 spam calls per day). I pay for NomoRobo but still a lot get through. Apple could fix things very easily if I could set up call blocking using wildcards (right now I can only block specific numbers). If I could block all 8xx numbers that are not in my contacts that would cut my spam calls in half. I could almost eliminate them if I could block numbers from my phone's area code (and possibly interchange) as well.

I have the advantage of having moved from my home area code a few years ago, so any call from that area code that is not in my contacts is likely spam.

Seems like a simple thing to implement. But, Apple.
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Old 01-08-2020, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Marvin the Martian View Post
The Do Not Call Registry is a joke (or maybe it's working and preventing me from getting 50 spam calls per day).
I think the issue is that a lot of spam callers are originating from outside the U.S. so they are not subject to this regulation. The registry was a good idea when it was established but the spammers just moved one step ahead.
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Old 01-08-2020, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
The app I use is "enough will power to avoid answering the call if I don't recognize the number".
I'd still like something to keep my phone from ringing every hour with unwanted calls or texts. I can go for days without a call that's actually for me. I'm not particularly well, and I don't sleep more than a few hours at a time, so I'll sleep a couple times a day, at whatever time I need to, but still, there are calls I want and need to be able to take. There are sick family members, matters concerning my finances and housing, etc. The phone rings, I gotta wake up and check who it is, see what the text is. Even if I don't answer it, I have to check the phone. Even if I use a unique ringtone for known numbers, the ring still wakes me. Also, I as I said above, I also get calls from people whose number I might not have, but I need to take.

I was looking for an app that blocked known spammers, in an attempt to cut back on these calls. I was hoping for recommendations from people who have used one and liked it. I use Tracfone, so I'm thinking of trying CallDetector, but I thought I'd field some opinions.

If anyone else is looking for help in this area, here is a list of some call blocking apps. It's targeted at Tracfone users, but many or most will work with Android phones in general. At least one, Should I Answer, works with both Android and Apple's IOS.
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Old 01-08-2020, 03:48 PM
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Oddly enough, I got a text from Verizon yesterday about an ap called Call Filter. It's free for Verizon subscribers. I got a spam call this morning and then installed the ap. I only get two or three spam calls a week so it'll take a bit to see how effective it is. Calls that they think are spam go straight to voice mail.
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Old 01-08-2020, 03:49 PM
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There are apps for phones which allow you to create macros to automatically perform various tasks. I have a macro setup so that incoming calls which are not in my contact list get sent to voicemail. It stops most of the spam calls from ringing. Only occasionally do they leave a voicemail. The macro app I use is MacroDroid, but there are many others.
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Old 01-08-2020, 03:54 PM
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My phone's Do Not Disturb feature only lets calls from my contacts ring through. I don't even hear any other calls.
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Old 01-08-2020, 05:10 PM
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Are they able to leave a message, or does Do Not Disturb block the call from getting through entirely?
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Old 01-08-2020, 05:44 PM
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I've been wanting to find something like this myself. I recently changed phones and only then realized how nice I had it before--old phone got maybe one spam call a month and spam texts much less often than that. My new phone gets both on almost a daily basis (sometimes more than once a day.) My old phone had a white list--it wouldn't even ring unless I had the calling number in my contacts. I installed one app that is supposed to do the same thing, but half the time it lets the spam call ring anyway. I'd love to have an app where the white list actually works.
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Old 01-08-2020, 05:45 PM
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(Oh, and going by my spam texts, my number used to belong to "Bernard.")
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Old 01-08-2020, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
The app I use is "enough will power to avoid answering the call if I don't recognize the number".
Maybe you could install the "enough willpower not to insult a legitimate question" app.
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Old 01-08-2020, 05:58 PM
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This article from USA Today describes some options for blocking robocalls on cell phones, including carrier-provided options and some apps like Nomorobo (although that costs two bucks a month or twenty bucks a year).
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Old 01-08-2020, 06:03 PM
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Legislation was recently passed to try to address the unwanted-call problem, at least by increasing transparency, but it is a long way from implementation. Spammers will presumably try to develop ways to work around it, too.
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Old 01-08-2020, 08:27 PM
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What kind of phone do you have?

iPhone's having blocking ability / software built into them. I don't know if Androids do as well, but I'd be surprised if they don't.

On iPhone go to: Phone app > Recents (at the bottom of the main screen)>scroll to the phone number you want to block > tap the "i" on the right side of the number > at the bottom of the info screen tap "Block this caller"

That stops all communication from that caller.

@Darren Garrison
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
The app I use is "enough will power to avoid answering the call if I don't recognize the number".
Maybe you could install the "enough willpower not to insult a legitimate question" app.
You're 100% correct - Assholes like that are why I rarely use SDMB anymore.
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Old 01-08-2020, 08:41 PM
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Maybe you could install the "enough willpower not to insult a legitimate question" app.
Heh, thanks. I was gonna say something about the quasi-threadshit, but I launched my, "willpower to ignore unhelpful people" app. I probably should have addressed it as the OP, but the thread continued just fine anyway. That post reminded me of the one smug guy in every antivirus thread, the one who says he doesn't need an antivirus program because he's too smart to get a virus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
This article from USA Today describes some options for blocking robocalls on cell phones, including carrier-provided options and some apps like Nomorobo (although that costs two bucks a month or twenty bucks a year).
Thanks, that was a helpful read.

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Originally Posted by GMANCANADA View Post
What kind of phone do you have?

iPhone's having blocking ability / software built into them. I don't know if Androids do as well, but I'd be surprised if they don't.

On iPhone go to: Phone app > Recents (at the bottom of the main screen)>scroll to the phone number you want to block > tap the "i" on the right side of the number > at the bottom of the info screen tap "Block this caller"

That stops all communication from that caller.
Yeah, my Samsung has that option right after you hang up a call, but the spammers have more numbers than I can block on my own. The Chinese callers keep getting blocked, and they keep calling me. Unfortunately, I think they spoof legit numbers as well, and I don't think there will ever be a good way to stop that at the phone level. Maybe we can cut back some of it, though, by doing what we can with the rest of them.


Looks like there are a few folks interested in this. If anyone tries one of these, post back and we'll compare notes. Maybe we can help each other out.
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Old 01-08-2020, 10:44 PM
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I use "Should I Answer?" which has many options, including crowdsouced ratings of numbers. I don't use most of its features, just the setting that blocks all calls from numbers that aren't in my contacts list. Works great!
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Old 01-09-2020, 12:03 AM
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I use "Should I Answer?" which has many options, including crowdsouced ratings of numbers. I don't use most of its features, just the setting that blocks all calls from numbers that aren't in my contacts list. Works great!
Thanks for the reply. This is the kind of first-hand experience I (and I guess some others here) were hoping for.

SIA is one of the apps I was looking at. Do you find it intrusive? I had one that asked me to explain every time I blocked someone, so that it would go on their master list. I was also kind of afraid it might block someone it shouldn't.

Last edited by Face Intentionally Left Blank; 01-09-2020 at 12:03 AM.
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Old 01-09-2020, 12:17 AM
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One problem with blocking numbers is that the spammers are just making up the caller id values. One strategy is called "neighbor spam", which is where they set the caller id to be from the same area code and exchange as yours. So if your number is 555-555-1212, the spammers will make the caller id say something similar like 555-554-9812 one time, then 555-555-1872 the next time, and so on. Blocking numbers is typically ineffective because the caller id is spoofed. Even though the spammers are faking the caller id, the number is still a valid phone number. Likely a real person or business has that number. Some of you may have even gotten calls from angry people who thought you were the ones spamming them. What happened in that case is that the spammer happened to put your phone number in the caller id when they spammed someone.
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:32 AM
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From what I understand, the what you are describing is a uniquely American problem. Spam calls and texts are practically unheard of in Europe. So if cost is no concern to you (and your correspondents, who might have to pay long-distance fees to call you), maybe you could just buy a foreign SIM card and use that instead.
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Old 01-09-2020, 07:28 AM
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From what I understand, the what you are describing is a uniquely American problem. Spam calls and texts are practically unheard of in Europe. So if cost is no concern to you (and your correspondents, who might have to pay long-distance fees to call you), maybe you could just buy a foreign SIM card and use that instead.
Ridiculously expensive. Verizon charges me $2/minute to call France if I do not have an international calling plan. So, that would effectively stop all your calls except from your friends in France.
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:00 AM
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Looks like there are a few folks interested in this. If anyone tries one of these, post back and we'll compare notes. Maybe we can help each other out.
FWIW, this is the one that I have installed and am not satisfied with.
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:17 AM
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Are they able to leave a message, or does Do Not Disturb block the call from getting through entirely?
I believe it redirects calls directly to voicemail. There's an option to let a call through if someone dials you twice in succession within a certain short time period (3 minutes). You can allow calls from all contacts, certain pre-defined (by you) groups, or no one.

There's also, inexplicably, an option to allow calls from "Everyone" which is really strange (what's the point?!), but whatever.
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:27 AM
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Are they able to leave a message, or does Do Not Disturb block the call from getting through entirely?
Mine silences the ringer. People can call, and they can leave voicemails, but only people on my contacts list can ring through. Otherwise, I can deal with calls later without missing any important ones. I also have a built-in setting to block numbers and add them to a spam list, no app needed.
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Old 01-09-2020, 08:42 AM
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Since this is asking for advice, let's move it to IMHO.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:49 AM
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One problem with blocking numbers is that the spammers are just making up the caller id values. One strategy is called "neighbor spam", which is where they set the caller id to be from the same area code and exchange as yours. So if your number is 555-555-1212, the spammers will make the caller id say something similar like 555-554-9812 one time, then 555-555-1872 the next time, and so on. Blocking numbers is typically ineffective because the caller id is spoofed. Even though the spammers are faking the caller id, the number is still a valid phone number. Likely a real person or business has that number. Some of you may have even gotten calls from angry people who thought you were the ones spamming them. What happened in that case is that the spammer happened to put your phone number in the caller id when they spammed someone.
I always dismiss or ignore these calls, of course, but I don't block the number, for the reason you give. One time, a few months ago, right after I dismissed such a call, I got a text from the same number saying something like "why are you spamming me asshole?" It made me think the robo-caller must have picked out two phone numbers, and spoofed them to each other. Is that a thing?
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:09 AM
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Thanks for the reply. This is the kind of first-hand experience I (and I guess some others here) were hoping for.

SIA is one of the apps I was looking at. Do you find it intrusive? I had one that asked me to explain every time I blocked someone, so that it would go on their master list. I was also kind of afraid it might block someone it shouldn't.
Not intrusive at all, although as I said, I simply block all calls not in my contacts list. You can be more interactive with it, if you want to join the crowdsourcing process. But you don't have to, and I haven't.

The only problem with it from my POV is that if I'm expecting a plumber or someone else who's going to call before coming to the house, I have to remember to turn it off, or those calls will go to VM. Not the end of the world if they do, usually, and I've gotten better at remembering. And you would have the same issue with any app that blocks calls from non-contacts, so it's not a specific problem with SIA.
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Old 01-09-2020, 12:06 PM
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Oddly enough, I got a text from Verizon yesterday about an ap called Call Filter. It's free for Verizon subscribers. I got a spam call this morning and then installed the ap. I only get two or three spam calls a week so it'll take a bit to see how effective it is. Calls that they think are spam go straight to voice mail.
I'm a Verizon user, and this seems to have installed itself with an upgrade. Suspicious calls are marked as potential spam, and hung up on.
I don't get many calls on my cell, but we used to get a lot on our landline. Then we signed up for NoMoRobo, and it cut them down by 95%. It rings once and then dies. Anything that gets through - if we are early on a spammers list, say, we let go to voice mail where it usually hangs up when it hears the beep.
I only block numbers if they call repeatedly, which is not often.
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:22 PM
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From what I understand, the what you are describing is a uniquely American problem. Spam calls and texts are practically unheard of in Europe. So if cost is no concern to you (and your correspondents, who might have to pay long-distance fees to call you), maybe you could just buy a foreign SIM card and use that instead.
Alright, that's it. I officially live in a 3rd world hellhole. You guys have decent healthcare AND no spam calls? Seriously, what's the catch?
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:24 PM
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Then we signed up for NoMoRobo, and it cut them down by 95%. It rings once and then dies. Anything that gets through - if we are early on a spammers list, say, we let go to voice mail where it usually hangs up when it hears the beep.
I signed up for NoMoRoBo through my cable/ISP/phone provider, Comcast/Xfinity, and it works pretty well, although it does seem to let through a lot of the "neighbor spam" filmore mentioned. And it doesn't fully block everything: often the phone will ring once, then stop. No Caller ID, just one ring. Not time enough to pick up, so why even bother ringing?

I've seen a big uptick in calls to my landline in the last few months, as many as a dozen or two every day! I just don't pick up any calls on the landline that I don't recognize.

Here's the newest thing: the Caller ID reads NOMOROBO! The first time I thought it might be the NoMoRoBo service calling me for some reason, so I picked up. But no, just a spam call. So I ignore NOMOROBO now, along with everything else.
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:31 PM
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I always dismiss or ignore these calls, of course, but I don't block the number, for the reason you give. One time, a few months ago, right after I dismissed such a call, I got a text from the same number saying something like "why are you spamming me asshole?" It made me think the robo-caller must have picked out two phone numbers, and spoofed them to each other. Is that a thing?
I wouldn't doubt that the spammers are operating off of a list of numbers and use those same numbers as the caller id value for calls. That'd be pretty simple. When calling the Xth person in the list, set the caller id to the previous number in the list. I've heard of people having their own number pop up in the caller id when they get a spam call. Maybe that's related.
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:38 PM
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I had another spam call ring tonight, and looked at my call log and found 7 others from the past few days that had been blocked (possibly reusing numbers that had spammed earlier?) Since I got the phone on November 7th, I have blocked 72 spam numbers, which is slightly more than one per day.
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Old 01-23-2020, 11:18 PM
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This is new to me--got a spam group chat today, along with 12 other numbers. Five morons "replied all" for the spammer to stop (thus confirming that they had a live number.)
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Old Yesterday, 04:33 PM
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I've had a couple of new ones.

Someone calls asking for So and So. It's always a different So and So. I tell them they have the wrong number, hang up, and block. That's been happening a couple of times a week.

I've also had a couple go straight to voicemail without ringing AND somehow not indicating a missed call number, should I want to call them back. They're calling about a bad debt and that it is URGENT I return their call. I'd love to block but there's no record that they called except for the straight-to-voicemail, so I have no number to block.
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