How to Block Telemarketing Calls?

Is your phone ringing nonstop with telemarketers? Do you constantly pick up the phone only to hear dead air? This can be frustrating, to say the least. In fact, it’s estimated that Americans received over 3.4 billion robocalls in 2018 alone! While there are steps you can take to put an end to spam calls, one of the best ways to stop them from ever happening in the first place is by blocking numbers as soon as they come in. 


Call your phone service provider


Some phone service providers offer a service to automatically block known telemarketers. These services work because, even though your caller ID may say "John Smith" and an unfamiliar number, the incoming call is being made from a phone number that's already been identified as belonging to a telemarketer.

Keep in mind that if you're getting calls from scammers pretending to be with the IRS or other government agencies, there may not be anything your provider can do. Those calls are likely coming from overseas and not even passing through the U.S. phone network, which is why they often have bad connection quality and funny-sounding voices.


Dial *60


Alternatively (or in addition), you can also set up call screening for individual lines within your home. Just dial *60 from any phone in the house and follow the instructions provided by your carrier's voice menu system, which should walk you through the steps of adding numbers to block calls from them in the future. After you set this up, those specific callers will hear an automated recording that states "the number you have called has calling restrictions that have prevented completion of your call." This is just a polite way of saying that their telemarketing calls are not welcome here (or anywhere).


Block specific numbers


Blocking specific numbers is useful when there’s a particular person that you want to stop calling you. This can be especially useful if you’ve seen their number pop up on your recent calls list and they haven’t left a voicemail.

Depending on the make and model of your phone, you might need to follow slightly different steps to do this:

  • On iPhone, go to Settings → Phone → Call Blocking & Identification, then tap Block Contact. Select a contact from the list or enter an unknown number (you can copy and paste it into the field). Tap Block Contact to confirm.
  • On Android, open the Phone app and navigate to Recents or Recent Calls. Find the number you want to be blocked, then long-press it or tap Details in its menu button (usually, three dots stacked vertically) → Block/report spam → Block. Alternatively, go to Settings → Apps & notifications → Phone app info/details (depends on device) → Permissions & Notifications/Caller ID & Spam → Blocked numbers→ Add a Number and enter it manually

Use 'do-not-disturb'


You can use your phone's "do not disturb" feature to block calls you don't want to get. If you have an Android phone, here are the steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Sound and notification > Do not disturb
  2. Flip the switch at the top of the screen to turn it on
  3. Open up "Allow exceptions"
  4. Check off "Calls from anyone," or choose who can call you while do not disturb is on (you can opt for only certain contacts, starred contacts, or no one)
  5. Tap 'OK'

When do-not-disturb is active, incoming calls will be silenced and sent directly to voicemail (unless you chose one of those exceptions). It won't prevent communication through messaging apps like text or WhatsApp, though. You'll also be able to see a banner that says your phone is in do-not-disturb mode whenever someone sends you a message or tries calling you while this setting is on.


Sign up with the national Do Not Call registry


To get started, sign up for the Do-not-call registry at www.donotcall.gov. That's the simplest way to stop unwanted telemarketing calls.

Visit donotcall.gov and register your phone number(s). It's free, but you'll need to enter an email address and confirm your registration by clicking a link in an email sent to you after registration is complete. You'll see a reduction in unwanted calls within 31 days of registering, but it may take longer for some businesses. If you never register with the registry, your number will remain on it indefinitely; if you do register, your number will stay on the list until you change your mind or cancel it yourself. To keep the telemarketers away, make sure to keep your phone number on the list at all times by re-registering every 5 years after that. To check if your phone number is already on the registry's list, click here.


Use a call blocker app


One of the best ways to block unwanted calls on a cell phone is to download a call blocker app. A call blocker app acts as a filter. The company behind the app uses call data or reports from users, the FTC, and other sources to predict which calls are likely scams. The app will block those calls before they reach you. 


Here are some popular call blocker apps you can choose:

Most call blocker apps have a free trial. You can download them and have a try to find one that meets your demand.


Only answer calls from known numbers


The tips in this piece will help you set up your phone so that telemarketers can't reach you. However, they won't stop other types of nasty people and scam artists who might want to get their hands on information about you and/or your devices. Stay vigilant:

Only answer calls from known numbers. This may seem obvious, but it's a very important way to keep yourself safe. Don't pick up the phone if you don't recognize the number, even if there's something strange or suspicious about it (e.g., if the number is one digit off of a number you actually recognize).