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The Single Best Way to Get Rid of Telemarketers

Say goodbye to those unwanted calls for good.

We've all been there: You see a somewhat familiar number pop up on your caller ID, usually with the same area code as your own. You pick up the phone thinking it's someone you know, only to find that it's a stranger or a robot trying to sell you something or get you to give them your private information. This has become so common in fact, that according to a September 2019 survey from Robocall Index, about 1,700 robocalls are received nationwide every second. Raymond Huahong Tu, a computer scientist at the University of Maryland, explained to The Washington Post, that today's telemarketers commonly use automatic dialing systems that allow them to place numerous calls at once and to substitute prerecorded or computer-generated messages for live ones. So how do you stop the madness and prevent your phone number from getting consistent calls from telemarketers? Well, that depends on whether or not you have a landline or mobile phone (and which kind). Below, we've gathered the top solutions for getting rid of telemarketers at home and on your cell.

The first step, no matter what kind of phone or phone line you're using, is to get yourself on the National Do Not Call Registry. This is maintained and enforced by the federal government and applies to all U.S. telemarketers (excluding non-profits). While this is a necessary first step for reporting telemarketers, you'll likely continue to receive calls from those violating the registry. So, here's how to further protect yourself from telemarketers.

How to block telemarketers and robocalls on your landline

Anonymous Call Rejection is a service available to landline users that blocks all those numbers that appear as "Anonymous" on caller ID from reaching you. As long as your caller ID is activated, pick up your line, and enter the magic number: *77. After that, you should hear a confirmation message that your Anonymous Call Rejection service has been turned on. And voila, from thereon out, any telemarketer hiding their number will be rejected. (It should be noted that some carriers charge extra for this service and that this should not be used on mobile lines, where dialing *77 will instead connect you with law enforcement.)

How to block telemarketers and robocalls on your cell phone

If you have a major cellular carrier—like AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile—your phone likely comes preloaded with free call-filtering and blocking services. That's why you'll see a numbered identified as "Spam?" on your caller ID. But these services can be less than reliable. If you want to keep all unfamiliar numbers from reaching you in full, turn on your phone's built-in Do Not Disturb Mode, which is available on both iPhones and Androids. While this will block all of those unwanted calls—including telemarketing calls and robocalls—you will likely also miss some legitimate calls when this mode is on, like from your doctor's office or hair salon if they're not saved in your Contacts list.

Another, albeit more tedious, option, is to block each individual number once you receive a call from a telemarketer or robot.

  1. On your iPhone, open your Phone app, go to your Recents tab, then tap the "i" (AKA the Information icon) to the right of the number you want to block. On the next page, tap "Block this Caller" at the bottom of the screen to put the number on your Blocked Numbers list.

  2. If you have an Android, similarly open your Recents section in your Phone app, then hold your finger on the suspicious number until the option to"Block/report spam" pops up.

Of course, if you understandably want a faster solution, there are many apps you can download to your smartphone. These major three—Hiya, Nomorobo, and Robokiller—all utilize some version of an extensive call blacklist, which is usually crowdsourced. If low cost and privacy are your priorities, Hiya is the one for you: It's free, and claims to not make use of client voicemail and call information. If you are willing to shell out a couple bucks per month, Nomorobo and Robokiller are both excellent options, and the latter has a killer perk: The service includes access to so-called "spambots," which will answer telemarketing calls for you and engage whoever's on the other end (even other bots!) in pointless bot-conversation. Soon, the telemarketers will catch on and stop calling you. Simple as that! And for more ways to make the most of the supercomputer in your pocket, Here's the Single Best Way to Make Your Phone Battery Last All Day.

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Owen Duff
Owen Duff is a freelance journalist based in Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry’s. Read more
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