Unwanted Phone calls


Today’s phones can block phone calls from a list. This is backwards. Just like firewalls we need phones that will white list a manageable number of phone numbers (family, friends, people who owe us money …) and dumps the rest of the calls. The phone need not ring and voice mails are not appreciated. Do these exist? If not why not?

Comments (27)

27 responses to “Unwanted Phone calls”

  1. Paul Thurrott

    This is an excellent point. At the very least, it should be an option.

  2. markmagnus

    Upon reading all the responses I am thinking that people are over thinking this. The processing capacity on both the new cell phones and desk phones is such is that we should be able to have both block lists and white list capabilities and the end user should decide what works best for them. At the point in time that calls started coming in which said they were from my area code and in some cases matched the local prefixes of the town I live in I decided block lists were no longer adequate. These calls were clearly from somewhere else a long way away. I have been working in the computer field since 1973 and white lists are a thing of beauty and simplicity. If the government really wants to get a hold of me they will send a certified letter. Does anyone here really think that phone calls from the IRS are legit? White listing is old proven technology and it just works so simply. If it ties into you contact list then it becomes a no brainer from an implementation standpoint.

    • wunderbar

      In reply to markmagnus:

      Ah yes, the "I've been working in x since the beginning of time and $thing works for me so obviously it should be able to apply to anything."

      My favorite argument.

      Whitelists are not the be-all, end-all. At my workplace we recently had to switch away from whitelisting devices that can attach to our wifi network because it became impossible to manage. The list of whitelisted devices was literally thousands of devices long, and then what's even the point? I'm sure you'll probably say that we should just clear the whitelist and start over, which is also untenable since we'd then have to identify and whitelist a couple hundred legit devices all over again. That's just not happening, and is not a good experience for the users.

      Whitelists work fine when you know 100% for sure that there will only ever be a specific, fixed set of things that rarely changes. They do not work in a more dynamic environment. Full stop.

  3. Lauren Glenn

    Just keep in mind on Android sometimes these caller ID apps can have a negative effect where they slow down the phone waking up and getting the info that you can't answer the call in time. I've had it happen so badly on my phones that I stopped using them altogether and had to use my work iPhone 6 to get calls (as it doesn't allow such apps).

    A simple way to do it is to have certain contacts in your list be a certain ringtone and make unknown callers and unlisted ones be another. This way you can see what it is, I guess.

    I keep mentioning Google Voice as it just stopped my phone from getting a call from some congresswoman who decided, "let's robodial my entire Philadelphia district to talk about paper recycling of confidential documents!" instead of taking out an ad on TV or newspaper. I want to sign her office up for a robodialing experience to show her what it's like, but that's probably illegal.... anyway....

    I can't stop voicemails from coming in with Google Voice, but I don't think they limit me much with those. I have voicemails going back 3 years on my GVoice I forget to delete off... plus you get an email transcription for free too.

  4. wluck

    You did not mention o/s, but that is ok. I had been receiving 3 to 6 sales calls each day for nearly a year. Verizon office local really had no suggestions except change ph. #. We both know what a pain that would be. So I call Verizon tech support, I was blessed with a rep. that had suggestions. DU Caller is for android and ios. I have a Samsung Note 4. Installed app. It goes through your recent calls and will come back to you asking is this a good call or spam. Turn off your sound for notifications (just have to check your screen in silence - how nice) and as new spam calls come in block them on your phone block app. This app took less than a week to learn the bad numbers and good numbers. You will never hear a ring from any of the spam calls unless its a new number. But with a couple of clicks - never hear from them again.

    You only hear from DU Caller when a new number calls, asking is it good or bad.

    Peace has come to my phone! Two big PLUS, the android app is free, not sure about ios. It has the option to record each phone calls and best of all ITS FREE

    Wishing You No More Spam Calls

    • wunderbar

      In reply to wluck:

      Personally, there would be no way in hell I'd trust a random 3rd party app with that kind of control over a dialer.

      • wluck

        yes, you have a point. But with as many sales calls I received over 18 months, one might resort to drastic measures short of changing my phone number. I am open to any other methods.

  5. Brazbit

    Put your phone on DND and add your selected friends and family to the exception list?

  6. lvthunder

    I just wish they would make it illegal to use the recordings. If you want to talk to me on the phone at least make it a human and not a machine. Just wait until these guys get a hold of the duplex technology.

  7. Lauren Glenn

    I used to use Hiya to do this and even had TMobile's free spam filter caller ID thing they have, but what it ended up doing was blocking people calling me from work because people report that number as SPAM when it's the same number that shows up when they call me.

    I started turning on the call screening option for Google Voice and will probably turn on the option where people have to speak their names when it's a number not in my Google contact list. That pretty much takes care of any robo calls from anyone as the system can't hit the digits required to get through.

    You just have to remember that when people call you that you do know that you add them to your Google contact list on your phone that syncs up to Google. From that point, Google Voice will realize it's a known caller and won't have them go through this process unless you explicitly tell them to.

  8. John Scott

    Lot of spoofing of numbers, hard to block because you don't know the actually number. Many simply change the number frequently and so its a vicious cycle of trying to stop these calls. I generally just do not answer them and hope someday better filtering can come like it did with junk email. Its obvious these sort of malicious people don't honor do not call lists.

  9. wright_is

    I've only ever had one unwanted phone call on my mobile phone. On the landline, we get a few foreign call centers (one every other week or so) calling up, so I've started blocking country codes in the router's filter list.

    • wunderbar

      In reply to wright_is:

      As with everything, it very much depends on use case. My cell phone number has been my primary/only phone number for 13 years and as such I get unwanted/spam calls to it on a semi-regular basis.

  10. pderosa

    In theory this would be perfect for my life, but every ten or fifteen years you get a call from a stranger you really need to answer. A distant relative dies in another state or country. Somebody is being sued. Things like that.

    • Lauren Glenn

      In reply to pderosa:

      I still recommend Google Voice for this. If someone calls you from a number you don't know, you can hit "2" if you have call screening on to see who it is. You can hit a key to join the call and drop them from voicemail. From there, you add them to your address book from Google Voice's website.

      It's a service that is so good at fixing these things that I would literally pay for it if they asked me to.

    • John Scott

      In reply to pderosa: Yeah blocking really doesn't work, and so I just don't answer unfamiliar calls and if its important they will leave a message.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to pderosa:

      I could think of reasons single people might want to accept calls from random numbers, but I'm married with kids in their 20s, so I'll stick to my current circumstances. Calls from one's adult children's classmates about high school and college reunions becomes a not uncommon event, especially if one's children have changed their mobile phone numbers a few times, or, in the case of one of my kids, is in Europe for a few years.

      Then there's always family or friends with dead phones borrowing other people's phones to call in emergencies.

      White listing is great for recluses, but impractical for anyone else.

      That said, black lists would be a lot handier if all that were needed were area code and exchange (next 3 digits).

  11. StevenLayton

    As well as blocking known spam numbers, our landline has a kind of caller protection service, where when someone rings, it asks them for there name, the hand set then rings and plays back recording of the voice who is calling us. If we accept it, the number is whitelisted, and never asks them for their name again. If we reject, it blacklists them. Not had any spam calls, as spammers likely always hang up.

    • arunphilip

      In reply to StevenLayton:

      Which country, and who's your provider? That seems to be an amazing service.

      • StevenLayton

        In reply to arunphilip: I’m in the UK, and the handset model is a BT8610. Our provider is Sky TV, but the phones seem to work on any provider. The service it uses is called TrueCall.

        • RR

          In reply to StevenLayton:

          First part of this message lost. My error. In summary, it said Google voice (and perhaps others) have services that can help you block unwanted calls.


          Updated 2 days later:

          BTW, I just discovered today using my Skype that they have similar things. There is a button you can select under settings to accept calls only from your contacts. I guess this is pretty easy to implement for any IP type service

          • Lauren Glenn

            In reply to RR:

            You would think, but they don't do it as well as GVoice. It's the only number I give out anymore as it solves all my robo-dialing problems. Adding numbers is as easy as adding them to an address book that syncs to GMail and Google Services. Since I turned that call screening option with stating your name for unknown callers, I don't get any more robo calls. The spam ones where they actually dial you still come through but you can click "2" to send them to voicemail and listen to them talk then pick up if you want to talk to them.

  12. wunderbar

    I like the idea of this, but I don't think it's feasible. If I had to manually add a phone number to a white list every time I might need to get a call, it would be an unmanageable nightmare.

    Even something as simple as I'm looking to switch insurance providers, and request quotes from 4 different insurance companies. I'd have to add all of their phone numbers before they can attempt to contact me, and how can I even know *what* phone number to allow through. It could be a random sales person with their own direct line, and I'd have no way of knowing that beforehand.

    Again, in theory the idea is fine, I just don't see how it can practically be achieved.

  13. hrlngrv

    Problem is that government entities need to be able to call you, and not via opt-in. Likewise, I believe you'd have a difficult time justifying getting calls from entities which owe you money while blocking entities to which you owe money. ADDED: and woe betide you if you put your phone number on your children's school's emergency contact forms but forget to whitelist ALL school phone numbers which could call, up to and including teacher, PE teacher, principal, secretary, aide, nurse, etc. mobile phone numbers.

    This doesn't mean i'm not sympathetic. This is primary election season in the US, and pretty much every call from the state capitol area code is either campaign robocalls or political surveys. Sadly, I figure at least the former would be considered government entities, so enabled by default w/o opt-in.

  14. TechnologyTemperance

    I use Mr. Number on Android. It isn't perfect, some things still get through, but it blocks (straight to voicemail) known SPAM, and warns about potential SPAM. It crowd-sources information that way. f It also allows you to maintain your own block lists. I haven't seen a performance hit with it (of course YMMV). I recommend it.