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How to Stop Spam Calls and Robocalls on Android

How many of the calls you receive on your Android phone are spam? Whether telemarketers, scammers, or robocalls, they interrupt and distract you from what you were doing. This isn’t why you have a phone, and it doesn’t have to be this way.

Spam calls aren’t just wasting your time, the fact that you’re getting them means that your phone number (and almost certainly other personal information) is doing the rounds on spammers’ and scammers’ call lists. Answer the wrong call and you could really be in trouble.

Some robocalls redirect you to premium-line scams, phishing schemes, or whatever scam the call center is running that day. Scammers impersonate companies like Amazon, Apple, or Microsoft and use pretexts like surveys, technical support, and refunds to fleece you of your money, and worse.

For many scammers, your personal information is worth more than whatever money they’d be able to scam you for in one hit. If they can get you to reveal the right information, they could take out loans in your name or even steal your identity.

There are a couple of things you can do to help stop spam calls on your Android device right now, as you read along. Both have serious shortcomings, though. Luckily, there’s a longer-term strategy that both works better and has no downsides.

Before you do anything else

Register your phone numbers with the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry if you haven’t done so already. This will stop unwanted calls from legitimate businesses, but how many of the telemarketing calls and other spam calls you get are from legitimate businesses? There’s only one way to find out.

How to block unwanted calls from known callers on Android

Blocking spam calls from repeat offenders—those that call again and again from the same number—is worth it if most of the spam calls you get are from the same old numbers. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Phone app and go into the “call history” or “recents” tab.
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  1. Find the number from which you received a spam call.
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  1. Tap on the number and then on “block” in the menu. You might also have the option to report the call as spam while you’re at it.
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The obvious downside to this method is that it does nothing to stop spam calls from new numbers. Still, it costs you nothing and every little bit helps. There is a nuclear option but, as the name implies, it comes at a cost.

How to block unwanted calls from all unknown callers on Android

Definitely an extreme option, but Android users have the option of blocking unwanted spam calls from all numbers that don’t appear in their contacts list. Anyone (or anything, when it comes to robocalls) trying to reach you will go straight to voicemail without your phone ringing. Here’s all you need to do:

  1. Open the Phone app and tap on the three dots in the top right corner.
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  1. Select “settings” from the drop-down menu and tap on “blocked numbers.”
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  1. Toggle the switch next to “unknown.”
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How huge the drawback is here will depend on how many legitimate calls you typically get from unsaved numbers, and how urgent those calls tend to be. There will always be some important calls coming in from unknown numbers, so you’ll have to check your voicemail regularly to make sure you don’t miss important calls.

How to stop spam calls on Android—and so much more

Blocking numbers using the Android security settings above is like dealing with a leaky roof by opening an umbrella. There’s a better way. Rather than trying to filter spam calls on your handset, you can stop spam calls cold by getting your contact details off the market. What market?

There’s a $257,000,000,000+ industry based on the buying and selling of personal data. Companies called data brokers specialize in collecting, processing, and monetizing individuals’ personal information. They get the vast majority of this data from public sources, repackaging it into detailed profiles and “background reports.”

Type your full name into a web search engine and you’ll likely find a whole bunch of people search sites (a kind of data broker) eager to sell access to your personal information. These are just the tip of the iceberg: many data brokers prefer to deal in your data behind the scenes and won’t show up in a search like this. 

The people responsible for all those spam calls you receive, from regular telemarketing calls to illegal robocalls and scam calls, have to get your number from somewhere. Not only your number, but often other personal details like your name, mailing address, and preferred online device.

No matter where the bulk of your spam calls originate, there’s a good chance you ended up on these spam callers’ lists with the help of a data broker. So if you could get data brokers to stop sharing your personal information, you’d be able to drastically reduce the number of spam calls you get, without the hassle of call screening.

Here’s the crazy part: to stop data brokers, these shadowy companies that trade your privacy for their profits, all you have to do is ask. State laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) force data brokers to honor opt-out requests when they receive them.

There are hundreds of data brokers that operate in the US alone, and each of them has its own opt-out procedure. Correctly follow each procedure and you’ll successfully block spam calls from reaching your phone. Spam callers won’t be the only ones that suddenly can’t reach you.

All manner of text-message and email scams depend on data broker databases to find new victims. It’s also data brokers that put your arrest, criminal, and court records on blast, country-wide. Stalkers and creeps love people search sites for all the background information they can provide on current and potential victims.

So prying your personal information out of data brokers’ hands is probably the best spam protection you could hope for. Doing so has many, many side benefits, but also two major drawbacks.

There’ll be a delay between when you remove your records from data brokers and all those spammers and scammers update their systems, pulling down databases that no longer include your personal information. And then there’s the hassle of tracking down and opting out of dozens of data brokers.

It’s estimated that it’d take you 300+ hours to track down and opt out of all the data brokers that likely have your personal data on file. The first time. Because you’ll need to regularly check back with each and every data broker to make sure they don’t re-add your profile after you’ve opted out—something they tend to do.

There’s an easier way to do this. One that won’t have you screening incoming calls or digging through your voicemails all the time. Subscribe to Incogni and let our automated personal information removal service do all the legwork for you.

Incogni will create a shortlist of likely suspects and automatically send out wave after wave of opt-out requests on your behalf. It’ll follow each data broker’s particular opt-out procedure, dealing with any further interactions, like rejection appeals, for you.

Incogni will then restart this whole process every three months to make sure your personal information stays off these sites and out of these databases. Less spam is just the beginning.  

More guides on how to stop spam:

FAQ—How to stop spam calls on Android

Why am I suddenly getting so many spam calls?

There are a number of possible explanations for why you’re suddenly getting so many spam calls. If you’re getting spam calls from a range of random phone numbers, then it’s possible your phone number is being passed around between data brokers, and the spammers are getting it from there.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), carriers, and phone companies are doing what they can to stem the flow of spam calls, but it’s a never-ending game of cat and mouse. If spammers have your phone number, they’ll try to call it—it’s what they do. 

How do I permanently get rid of spam calls?

There’s no reliable way to block spam calls on Android phones (or any phone) without running the risk of missing important calls from unknown callers. The best option is to starve spammers of your phone number in the first place.

This isn’t a permanent solution either, though. You’ll need to keep searching for your personal information among data brokers and submitting and resubmitting opt-out requests to keep your data suppressed. This is why an automated personal information service is such a good approach: it might not be a “one and done” solution, but it’ll work for as long as you want it to.

Does dialing 662 block spam calls?

Dialing #662# on your Android phone will block calls flagged as “Scam Likely”, but it won’t block spam calls in general. Like many other spam-blocking methods, this one doesn’t have any downsides, but it isn’t a complete solution, either.

Here’s how to enable call blocking for “Scam Likely” phone numbers on Android:

  • Open your phone app and switch to the dial pad
  • Dial #662#
  • Tap the receiver icon like you would when calling a regular number

Is it better to ignore or decline spam calls?

It’s better to ignore rather than decline spam calls. If you don’t recognize the caller ID, just let it ring out. Your Android phone will let you assign a button to silence incoming calls rather than reject them. Rejecting a call might let the caller know that your number is active.

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