Most people have received fraudulent calls at some point in time since scammers from all over the world frequently use the Internet to make unwanted calls. The best defence against unsolicited calls is call-blocking. The type of call-blocking or call-labelling technology available depends on the device you use including a mobile, traditional landline, or a home phone that makes calls over the Internet (VoIP).
Call-blocking involves technologies or devices that block unwanted calls like scam calls and illegal robocalls. Mobile phones, landline and home phones that use voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) have unique call-blocking options. Users should be cautioned that call-blocking technology may inadvertently also block legitimate calls.
Call labelling services display categories on phone screens like ‘spam’, ‘scam likely’, or ‘suspected spam’, allowing users the option of answering or not. Choices may include:
- Block calls;
- Ring silently; or
- Divert to voice mail.
Block Calls on a Mobile Phone: Download a call-blocking app
To block calls on a mobile phone, users need to download a call-blocking app which acts as a call filter and intercepts the calls before they reach them. Companies who developed the apps use call data or reports from users to predict which calls are illegal or likely scams. Users can go to online stores to view the ratings of different apps appropriate for the mobile phone’s operating system (iOS, Android, etc.). Determine how the apps get and use your information before choosing what app to download.
Check what built-in features your phone has
Before purchasing an app, check what pre-loaded or built-in features your mobile phone has since it may come with a menu of options that will allow you to block calls from specific numbers. Your mobile phone may also have a ‘Do not Disturb’ feature where you can set hours during which calls will go straight to voicemail. Your service provider may also have some call-blocking features and hence, it is important to check what those are, and whether these services are free or come at a monthly charge.
First find out if your phone uses the Internet (VoIP)
It is most likely that you have a VoIP service on your home phone without knowing it. This means that your phone can make calls over the Internet. If you do not know how to check, consult your service provider. If you use a phone/Internet/cable bundle, you probably have VoIP service. If not, follow the advice on blocking calls on a traditional landline provided below.
Internet-based call-blocking services can block unwanted calls on phones and your service provider may be able to recommend a specific service. Some services are free and some services may have a monthly charge. Search online for expert review to guide you in your choices.
Some Internet-based services and mobile apps route all calls through their service which they analyse and let you choose what to do with unwanted calls. For example, calls might be:
- ring silently;
- go straight to a separate voicemail; or
- go to a spam folder
Check your provider’s website for features that suit your needs and pocket, or call the customer service department to determine what ison offer and what costs it will cost.
Install a call blocking-device
Using a traditional landline without VoIP allows you to install a call-blocking device in the form of a small box that you attach to your phone. Some attachable devices come with a pre-loaded blacklist database of known scam numbers, but allows you to add numbers you want blocked. Some devices allow you to create and update your own blacklist of numbers to block. Blacklists perform the following functions:
- stop unwanted calls;
- divert calls to voicemail;
- show a flashing light to warn you of an incoming unwanted call; and
- connect callers to a recording with options to prevent robocalls, but real caller can still get through
Certain attachable devices also have a whitelist of approved numbers which might limit unwanted calls getting through, or lets you set up “do not disturb” hours during which calls go straight to voicemail. You may also filter robocalls by using pre-recorded messages prompting callers to press a number to continue with the call.
Report Unwanted Calls
Report unwanted calls through the number that appears on your caller ID. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) makes it illegal for companies to direct unsolicited marketing messages to consumers who have ‘opted out’ on the National Opt-Out Register. Direct marketing is seen as:
- A form of either personal or electronic communication;
- Promotion of any goods or services, or;
- Requesting a consumer to donate something.
You can lay a complaint with the National Consumer Commission on 012 428 7000 or email@example.com.
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