It’s dinner time. You’re just sitting down when you get a call. On the other line, a robotic voice says: “We have important information regarding your credit accounts. Please hold to speak to a representative.”
How many times has that scenario happened to you or someone you know? Even if the answer is “once,” that directly translates to “too many times.” It’s scammy, annoying, and downright rude.
If you have an Android phone, though, you don’t have to deal with it. There are actually a few different ways to go about blocking numbers on Android, and we’re going to talk about a few of the easiest ones today.
If you’re on a phone that already has Android Marshmallow (6.0) or above, then we have good news: call blocking is just a few taps away. This is a long-requested feature that Google finally brought to the table starting with Android 6.0.
The easiest way to do this is to long-press the number in your call log, then select “Block number.”
Unfortunately, that only works on stock Android, so if you have a Samsung Galaxy device (or other non-stock phone), you’ll have to use the slightly more convoluted process: go directly to the call blocking list.
The good news is that accessing the call block list is basically the same on every device, though the menus may be named slightly different things—for example, on stock Nexus devices, you tap the three-dot overflow button to access the dialer’s menu, where you’ll tap “more” on Samsung phones to get to the same place.
So, with that in mind, go ahead and jump into the dailer (or the “phone app” as it’s often referred to). Once there, tap the three-dot menu in the top-right (again, on Samsung phones it reads “more”).
Choose “Settings,” then the “Call blocking” option.
This is where you’ll add the numbers of callers you’d like to ignore. Simply tap the “Add number” or “Block list” option, and key in whatever the number is. You can also choose a contact here, assuming you’ve saved the number of the annoying caller.
When someone from this number calls you, the phone will auto-block it. No ringing, no notification. Nothing. This raises the question: if someone calls and the phone doesn’t ring, did they ever really call at all?
If you’re using a stock Android phone like a Pixel or Nexus, you can actually set the dialer to clue you in on potentially spammy calls. This feature is probably enabled by default on most handsets, but here’s how to confirm (and enable it if not).
First, open the Dialer, then click the three dots in the upper right corner. From there, choose Settings.
In this menu, choose the “Caller ID & Spam” option.
If the little toggle at the top is ticked to the “on” position, you’re good to go. If not, well, give that little guy a flick to turn it on.
There’s also a short description of what this feature does just below the slider, just in case you’re wondering how it works.
If you’re looking for what’s arguably the smartest ways to block calls on your Android phone, look no further than Mr. Number. This is an incredibly full-featured app, but we’re just going to focus on its spam-blocking capabilities. Once you get in on the block action, though, you should definitely explore the app a bit more. It’s neat.
If you’re just looking to block all telemarketer or spam calls, Mr. Number can actually do this automatically. It has three types of auto-blocking: scam/fraud, suspected spam, and hidden numbers. Each of those categories can be toggled individually, too. It can also block individual numbers and even all numbers that aren’t in your contacts list. It gets crazy granular.
To enable these features, the first thing you’ll need to do is (of course), install Mr. Number. I shouldn’t have to say that, but I’m doing it anyway. For completeness.
Once the app is installed, open it and tap the menu button in the top left corner, then select “Settings.”
The Settings menu is first broken down into four categories, but you’re looking for the first one: Call Blocking. Tap that.
In this menu, you can choose to block specific numbers, or toggle the aforementioned categories. There are actually several automated options here: Scam or Fraud, Suspected Spam, Hidden numbers, International Numbers, and Not in my Contacts. You can control each of these as needed.
Alternatively, you can just tap the “Numbers on my block list” option to add specific numbers. Just tap the plus sign in the bottom right to open the blocking menu. You can choose from a few different options: a number, a contact, numbers that begin with specific digits, or recent calls or texts. That’s crazy-granular control. You can even block an entire area code if you want!
When someone on your block list tries to call (regardless of you entered the number manually or it’s part of the auto-blocking feature), the phone will ring for about half a second or so before Mr. Number can kick in. Once it does, however, it’ll send the caller to voicemail and leave a notification letting you know that it blocked a number. You can then tap the notification to read more information about the number, including comments left by other users as to what the nature of the call was. Neat, right?
Mr. Number also offers SMS Spam notifications. It can’t automatically block SMS spam due to Android restrictions (which we’ll get into below), but it can notify you when you receive a dangerous message. To enable this feature, jump back into Settings and choose “Caller ID.”
From there, toggle the “Text Message Alerts” option and approve the SMS permission. From that point forward, questionable text messages will be flagged. I’m sure you don’t actually need someone to tell you when a message is spam, but it can’t hurt.
If you’re a Google Voice user, you have the ability to block calls from your Google Voice settings. Google Voice will play a message saying the number has been disconnected, so this may even fool telemarketers and other annoying callers into removing you from their spam lists.
Just log in to your Google Voice account online, locate the recent caller you want to block, click the More link, and select Block caller.
As I mentioned earlier, there are certain restrictions in place that won’t allow just any app to block messages. If you want automatic SMS spam blocking, however, it is possible—you’ll just have to give up your favorite SMS app and use one that features built-in blocking. So, basically, it’s a trade off. If there are things you love about a particular SMS app, you’ll likely have to give them up in exchange for spam blocking. It sucks, but so is life.
The most popular app on Google Play for this appears to be Truecaller, but there are a handful of different utilities available to do it. Since finding the right balance of SMS features and blocking capabilities can be pretty subjective, I’ll just point you in the right direction and let you pick the one that will be the best fit for your use.
Carriers have the ability to block calls, but they often don’t make it easy. Like almost every other service they offer, it will probably cost you additional money. Some carriers may help you block calls if you contact them, some may direct you to their paid services, and some may say it isn’t possible. This all varies from carrier to carrier, so you’ll need to check your carrier’s website, or call them and ask what services they offer.
Spam calls are annoying and intrusive, not to mention they waste your time. Fraudulent calls can be scary—oftentimes they sound really official, which can lead unknowing users to actually turn over personal data (or worse!). Fortunately, there are solutions across the board—whether you want to keep spammers at bay or block your ex from blowing your phone up (metaphorically, not literally; unfortunately there’s not an app for that).