Remember the days when you could just subscribe to the government-sponsored “Do Not Call” list and call it a day? Yep, those are gone and, lately, it seems like calls to my smartphone from telemarketers has increased about a thousand fold.
Of course, you can follow this mobile mantra: If I don’t recognize a phone number—telemarketer or not—I’m not picking up. The avoidance method often doesn’t sit well with me— my mobile number is also my business number— I never know what important call I might be missing.
It should be our inalienable right to protect our personal devices from being assaulted by spam calls. The good news: There are a few apps designed to block telemarketers. Here are some of the best I’ve tried, plus how to activate them on your iPhone.
Sometimes it can be tricky to tell if the number popping up on your smartphone is spam…or the call you’ve been waiting for from your landlord/future boss/old friend. That’s where Truecaller comes in. Once you download the app, there’s an option to plug in an unknown number and search a community-generated list of 250 million numbers to confirm that, yes, that 649 number you were hemming and hawing about answering was, in fact, spam. And if you don’t have time to search, Truecaller will also alert you in the moment—drawing again from that database of numbers—to let you know (in bright red) that the call coming in is spam. From there, you can simply swipe up to add it to that ever-growing database of telemarketers (and spare other app users from the same irritation).
In addition to providing context to pretty much anyone that dare dial you on your smartphone, Hiya uses caller ID to help you block telemarketers, blacklist unwanted phone numbers and text messages and reverse search incoming call information. Just like Truecaller, its intel comes from a user-generated list of spam numbers—this one featuring hundreds of millions of phone numbers confirmed by other users to be spam. The real time functionality helps you decide in the moment whether you should answer or not.
This app has a few additional features than the other two. Aside from helping you identify and block unknown spam numbers, Call Control also gives you the option to block an entire area code if you keep getting numbers from the same location. But that’s not all: If you’re the type of person who worries about the unknown numbers that look like spam, but actually aren’t, this app allows you to build a personal white list of calls you’re anticipating that need to get through.
Final Step: How to Activate Caller ID Apps on Your Smartphone
Keep in mind, for the best experience using these caller ID apps, it’s smart to “register” them, so to speak, in the settings on your iPhone. This way, Apple can also flag calls for you and use the latest iOS to label calls as spam as they come in.
Simply go to Settings > Phone > Call Blocking & Identification. There, under Allow These Apps to Block Calls And Provide Caller ID, you’ll see the option to toggle the caller ID apps you’ve installed on or off and also prioritize them based on how you’d like calls to be filtered.