The 411 on Potential Spam Calls and How To Identify Them
Cindy Ellis - January 29, 2024
Cell phones have further simplified communication, so you can always reach someone, regardless of their approximate location. Unfortunately, this added convenience has also made it possible for spam callers, identity thieves, and scammers to have easier access to potential victims.
Even worse, if you answer the call to give these potential spammers a piece of your mind, you are only making the likelihood of future calls a certainty.
To help those suffering from repeated ringings and all-day alerts on their cell phone, we will discuss what potential spam is and how to eliminate it. We will also detail all the different ways you can block, remove, or stop spam calls going forward.
What is Potential Spam?
Unfortunately, spam plagues the internet, electronic mail, and cell phones. Someone could be trying to solicit purchases for their company or acquire personal information from an individual to steal their identity. The reasons for spam calls differ, though the annoying prevalence of people ringing you is still entirely unwanted.
Thankfully, cellular services have gotten much better at identifying potential spam calls and suspicious activity. So now, when a person receives a ring from an unfamiliar cell number, the caller ID will likely mark it as “potential spam.”
The larger cell services use machine learning and behavioral analytics to determine whether or not a cell phone number has been showing suspicious activity. For instance, ringing the same number three times to try and find your partner’s lost cell phone is not suspicious. However, a cell number calling 32,000 different numbers all at once might ring some alarm bells.
Additionally, most cell phones and cellular providers offer built-in hardware and apps that can help minimize the likelihood of spam callers. These include features that silence unknown numbers and allow users to identify spam calls quickly.
What To Watch Out for With Spam Calls
Spam callers often use a few tricks to get information or data from someone that the average person may not be aware of. These can be very basic, like using a pre-recorded message or “robocall,” which are typically easy to identify. More advanced tricks include spoofing, which allows spam callers to seem like they are in your area.
Spoofing makes it seem like the call is local, eliminating the initial mental alarm bells telling you it is spam while hiding the original number. Spoofing secures the spammer’s identity while adding authenticity to the call, which could end with the victim giving away private or vulnerable information.
Spoofing also muddies the waters for cellular services by making it more challenging to identify spam numbers. For example, if I am trying to scam you and use your neighbor’s number to spoof my own, your neighbor may start being flagged for spam. Thankfully, there are several ways to cut down on the prevalence of spam calls for those with a few minutes to take action.
Ways To Get Rid of Spam Callers
Outside of apps and persistent use of the block feature, there is one way to reduce the redundant spam calls flooding your phone line. The most effective method to cut down on spam calls is to ignore them and never answer. By answering a spam call, you are not only putting yourself at risk of a higher phone bill but ensuring that more spammers will ring your line.
Read on for more effective ways to end spam calls.
1) Place Number on Do Not Call Registry
The National Do Not Call Registry is a valuable tool that is easy to use and entirely free. Overseen by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), the Do Not Call Registry allows you to be removed from thousands of telemarketers and some spam call lines. It should be mentioned, however, that calls for political campaigners and charity organizations will still get through.
Unfortunately, so will several spam calls. Folks being routinely bothered should take advantage of the Do Not Call Registry, though it will need to be used in conjunction with other solutions. A wide number of spammers will not heed the advice of a national registry, especially when a good portion are doing illegal scams.
To register your number in the Do Not Call Registry:
- Go to the Do Not Call Registry website and select “Register Your Phone.”
- There will be two options: choose “Register Here.”
- Enter your phone number and e-mail address
- Verify your e-mail address by clicking the link in your inbox.
- You will now be added to the Do Not Call Registry.
While this won’t prevent every random number from trying to reach you, adding your phone number to the Do Not Call Registry will eliminate several unwanted calls throughout your week.
2) Block Spam Numbers As They Contact You
As we have previously discussed, answering the phone is one of the worst things you can do when a spam caller calls you. However, your inability to tell off the spammer does not mean that you are incapable of taking action when they call. If you are experiencing repeated dials from the same number, block the phone number so that it cannot contact you in the future.
For several spammers, this will eliminate their ability to contact you. Regrettably, some can still use different phones or spoofed numbers to get around the block feature. Regardless, it is still essential that you take advantage of this helpful feature and stay diligent when spam calls interrupt your day.
For those using an iPhone:
- Tap on the phone icon.
- Select the “Recent” option.
- The spam number will be listed; tap the lowercase “i” to the right of it.
- Find the “Block this Caller” option and select it.
- The spam number will now be blocked.
If you are using an Android:
- Select the phone icon.
- Hold your finger down on the spam number.
- A menu will pop up. Select “Block.”
- The number will now be blocked.
Blocking with the other methods on this list will eventually discourage nearly all spam callers from contacting you. If you are not answering, blocking every number that reaches out to you, and using the methods below, spammers will grow frustrated and move on to easier targets.
3) Block or Silence Unknown Numbers
Similar to the method above, both Android and iPhone have separate but similar ways to eliminate unknown numbers from ringing you. The feature is ideal for people who regularly receive phone calls for unknown or hidden numbers and will cut down on many unneeded interruptions throughout your day.
For iPhone users:
- Select the “Settings” app on your iPhone.
- Navigate to the “Phone” option and tap it.
- There will be an option to “Silence Unknown Callers,” select it.
- Now flip the switch to on, silencing future unknown calls.
For Android users:
- Select the phone icon on your main menu.
- Above the search bar, tap the “…” option. Some phones may feature the ellipses in the search bar itself.
- Select “Call Settings” or “Settings.”
- Choose “Call Blocking & Decline with Message.”
- Turn on the “Private Numbers” toggle.
- You will now reject all calls from private numbers.
A common tactic to avoid getting a number reported is to contact potential victims from an unknown or private number. Spammers can use a private number to contact people ad nauseam without fear of being blocked or reported. Thankfully, cell phones typically have features that block any and all private numbers from reaching them.
4) Take Advantage of Spam Blockers and Apps
Everyone will likely experience a spam call every now and then, though for some – they are an unending headache that is genuinely annoying and detrimental to productivity. If you are one of the unfortunate few dealing with aggressive spammers, there are some notable spam-blocking tools that are offered not only by cellular services but through mobile apps as well.
The first thing everyone should take advantage of is the notable and powerful aids that most cellular services provide. The larger cell companies use very competent spam-blocking software such as ActiveArmor, Verizon Call Filter, T-Mobile ScamShield, and more. All come with a free plan with essential features and a premium plan that is typically around $4/month.
Additionally, many spam-blocking apps are trusted and recognized brands worthy of anyone’s time. Companies like Truecaller, Hiya, Robokiller, Aura, and more are all excellent options that can be found on the Play and App Store.
These apps have numerous features, such as spam text blocking, auto-block features for known spam numbers and debt collectors, and much more. Some are even beginning to integrate artificial intelligence to make the process of discovering spam numbers that much simpler.
These apps and tools, used in tandem with the above-listed methods, will ensure spammers have their work cut out for them. Outside of immediate family, friends, and work associates, your cell phone will remain as calm and quiet as you want it to be.
Spam callers are savvy, and as technology progresses, they continue to learn new, devious ways to reach potential victims. Thankfully, the rapidly advancing innovations have also made it much simpler for regular folks to keep their phone free of incessant ringing and predatory callers.
Take advantage of the Do Not Call Registry, make sure your phone is optimized to ignore spam callers and private numbers, and use the various free tools at your fingertips. Additionally, you can use tools like a reverse phone number lookup to find out who is calling you and determine if an unknown number is spam. There will always be some method that spammers use to reach people, and it may be impossible to eliminate all random calls. That said, it doesn’t mean that you have to be overwhelmed with needless calls and texts, and a few tricks can make potential spam calls a monthly occurrence instead of every other hour.