5 Apps That Block Robocalls

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If there’s one issue that unites Americans, it’s our distaste for robocalls.

These pre-recorded messages are so prevalent, you’ve likely received one already today. Consumer Reports says a record number of robocalls were placed to phones in the U.S. in 2018. That’s when the total count hit 48 billion, or approximately 1,500 robocalls per second.

Thankfully, because this is a bipartisan issue, legislators are coming together to help pull the plug on these automated calls. John Thune, R-S.D., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., have co-sponsored a new bill, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. One goal of this bill is to push for authentication technology, which would block potentially fraudulent numbers and allow consumers to decide whether to answer the call or not.

Until the bill is passed, however, you might need to take matters into your own hands — literally. There are several third-party mobile apps that work to block robocalls on your cellphone. We’ve filtered the extensive list of apps provided by the CTIA, narrowing it down to the following mobile apps. The CTIA is an organization that represents the U.S. wireless communications industry, including carriers, manufacturers and app developers.

These mobile apps were selected primarily based on their Google Play and App Store ratings, but also because of their Federal Trade Commission recognition and privacy policies.

Still, you might want to try out more than one of these apps to determine which suits your needs best. Also, you should always review the privacy policies of any app for yourself before downloading it.

1. Hiya

Hiya has such a large database of phone numbers that it can effectively identify robocalls, telemarketers, debt collectors and even what are known as “neighbor spoofing” calls. These are calls from numbers that look suspiciously similar to your own. When any unknown activity comes through, you’ll receive an automatic alert that specifies the type of caller.

Hiya also offers caller ID, which is helpful when you have a new doctor’s office calling for the first time. Hiya will supply a name with the number, so you can save it to your contacts. If you share your contacts with Hiya, it can better identify incoming calls. However, its privacy policy clearly states that you can opt to not share your contacts.

  • Cost: Hiya is free to download, but its Premium platform offers “the most advanced call protection.” Premium service is $25 per year.
  • Compatible with: Android and iOS

2. Nomorobo

Hiya asks permission to use your contacts, but Nomorobo doesn’t involve gaining access to your contacts. Cloud-based Nomorobo uses “simultaneous ringing.” This technology routes incoming calls to a second line, which detects illegal robocalls and hangs up before you get the call.

Important unknown numbers are patched through, like school lines and doctor’s offices. It claims to stop neighbor spoofing and protect you from more than 1.5 million scammers. The app made its creator a winner of the FTC Robocall Challenge in 2013.

  • Cost: $20 per year per mobile device or free for landlines
  • Compatible with: Android and iOS

Note: Nomorobo has a near-perfect rating in the Apple App Store, but earns a rather poor rating in Google Play.

3. PrivacyStar

PrivacyStar blocks known scammers and lets you add other phone numbers to block. PrivacyStar says it reports hundreds of thousands of offending callers to the FTC.

The company provides a reverse-number lookup, so you can decide who should be blocked for the future. PrivacyStar offers caller ID and takes a step further with its “CallerYD,” which it says reveals who is calling and why.

  • Cost: Free services include automatic scam protection and unlimited FTC reporting of abusive callers. The full-service suite costs $3 per year after a 30-day free trial.
  • Compatible with: Android and iOS

4. RoboKiller

RoboKiller lets you get revenge on telemarketers. Before a robocall can bother you, a RoboKiller “Answer Bot” takes the call and drives the scammer away. By turning the tables on telemarketers, RoboKiller claims it can reduce spam by 90% in your first 30 days.

Here’s how: The bots harass spammers with a lengthy message, effectively wasting the spammer’s time. You can record your own message for the answer bot. Hear the recorded calls in your SpamBox and enjoy the sweet revenge.

Because of its unique and entertaining call-blocking technology, RoboKiller won first place in the FTC Robocall Challenge in 2015.

  • Cost: After a seven-day free trial, prices vary from $1 a month to $30 per year.
  • Compatible with: Android and iOS

5. YouMail

YouMail provides several cloud-based telecommunication services, including visual voicemail. This technology sends the text of your voicemail messages in a list format, so you can easily read, listen, delete, save or reply back. Visual voicemail can be activated on any device and stores all your messages in the cloud.

Robocall blocking is a feature of YouMail. When an unknown number calls, YouMail compares the number to its database to determine whether it’s spam. YouMail answers spam calls with a recorded out-of-service greeting and removes your phone number from the spammer’s list. This blocks robocalls at the source and, YouMail says, it helps to ensure you don’t receive more calls from that spammer again.

Have you used a robocall-blocking app? Tells us about your experience in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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