How Do You Deal with Spam and Scam Calls?

As great as technology has been for phone calls, it’s also been a strain on it. It’s great to be able to get phone calls not just on landlines but on mobile phones that we can keep with us at all times, but it also increases our chances of getting unwanted spam and scam calls.

While one is annoying, the other can be quite harmful. No one wants to be inundated with relentless spam calls, yet scam calls can lead you to be phished, where you have the possibility of losing a lot of money if you fall into the scam.

How do you deal with spam and scam calls?

Our Opinion

Sayak gets the most unwanted calls on the phone he uses to register for banks, credit cards, social media accounts, and advertisers. Since it’s not a phone he really uses, “it’s always in silent mode and charging.” He checks the message once a week and finds a large call history. He just does “Select All + Delete.” For the phones he uses personally, and the number he promises to share with us, he uses TrueCaller that boasts the largest registry of phone numbers and blocks Robocalls immediately.

As soon as Phil recognizes a spam call, he has “no compunction about hanging up right away,” yet prefaces it by telling them it’s a private number and not to call again. He has more difficulty was his father’s phone number who has dementia. He rarely uses his landline other than to call out, so Phil blocked any numbers he identified as spam. Eventually, though, he just ended up disabling the ringer. To help block that on his mobile phone, he plans to change his father’s number every six months.

Simon tries to go the “polite route” with unwanted calls because he read on a site a few years back that hanging up doesn’t take you off the list, and they just try again later. He tries to show the callers that he’s not interested so that they’ll take him off the list but realizes that could be naive.

He had a scam call of someone trying to sell him a method of “making money at home doing nothing.” When he declined the offer, they wanted to know why he “didn’t want to make more money.”

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Ryan has lived in Australia for the past nine years and gets a spam call only about once a year yet realizes how rampant the problem is when he visits his family back in the United States. He feels like the majority of calls they get on their mobile phones are spam. He’s read there are apps that can help mitigate that amount but knows it doesn’t stop them completely. He feels the only course of action is to report unwanted texts and calls to the FCC.

Andrew says it’s been a long time since he had to deal with a scam call since he changes countries and phone numbers often. If he does get a scam call, it tends to be in another language, and he can’t really understand it. On the rare occasion he gets them, he either hangs up or lets them know he’s onto them and then hangs up.

Alex notes the FCC does need to “crack down on these calls”. Spam calls on his cell phone have “ruined the integrity of the phone communications network” for him because it’s that serious. He compares it to 1996 when half the email you received was the laziest possible spam. Routinely getting client calls, he feels forced to answer, not knowing if it’s a client or spam. When greeted with a spam call, he finds it “frustrating and embittering.”

He started to use an app, “RoboKiller,” that costs a few bucks a month but blocks spam calls with simple heuristics. While it’s not flawless, it does mean he can trust his ringtone again. However, he finds the government is failing at keeping the networks functional with regards to this.

The very day I was writing up this article, my dad received a scam call. Like Phil’s dad, he’s also dealing with some dementia. He got off the phone and said, “Huh, someone must have called and said we needed some work done on the computer.” I explained it was a scam He surmised, possibly correctly, that they got his number from a list of people who just passed away, as my mother passed a few weeks back. He figured the scammers think they can fool the widow/widower into believing the deceased had called to get the computer fixed.

How I am going to fix this for him? I have no idea. Although my sister wrote down a list of directions explaining phishing calls and placed it next to the phone, with the hopes he’ll remember not to give out his banking details to unknown callers.

Your Opinion

Are you bothered by unwanted calls? Do you just politely end the call? Do you use an app to handle the calls? How do you deal with them? How do you deal with spam and scam calls? Let us know your methods in the comments section below.

11 comments

  1. I registered my landline (yes, I still use a land line) with NoMoRobo. I have also added all the numbers I don’t want calling me (including politicians) to their database. When a call comes in, we let it ring. If it’s a number registered with NoMoRobo, the phone will ring only once. We use an answering machine and the TVs to screen the remaining phone calls. If I or any of my family do not recognize the number, we let the answering machine pick the call up. 95% of the time, the “caller” will not leave a message. 4% of the time the message is a sales pitch and only 1% of the time it is someone we want to talk to.

    I also have a old flip phone which I rarely use. If there are any spam/scam messages on it, I just ignore them.

    Regarding your father, does he REALLY need a phone? I know that it is very hard to deprive a loved one of a convenience they are used to all their lives. But sometimes the situation gets to the point when we have to. Something similar to taking away their drivers license. Inasmuch as I like my freedom, in another few years I will be handing in my license..

    1. I’m not sure whether you are comment regarding my father or Phil’s father, but currently my dad’s phone is our only mode of content save for the 7-minute drive over there to check on him. He has to have a phone to communicate. He checks his email, but not regularly, and doesn’t use any type of cell phone. So we can’t take his phone away. But the driving issue will be happening soon. I have great respect for you planning to do that voluntarily.

      1. I meant the comment regarding your father. However, it could just as well apply to Phil’s father.

        I did not mean to suggest that you take your father’s keys away. I just used the driving issue as an analogy tp to the phone issue. If he needs the phone to communicate with you and others, then it shouldn’t be taken away from him.

        Couple of years ago, the father of a co-worker started taking long, aimless drives and did not remember why or where he went. My co-worker, who happened to be a state trooper, not only took his dad’s keys away but he also got the DMV to cancel the license. Unfortunately, his brother, who is a priest, got the license re-instated on compassionate grounds. For a while there was a bit of acrimony between the brothers. /grin/

        “I have great respect for you planning to do that voluntarily.”
        As Dirty Harry Callahan said “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” I can see mine. My sight, hearing and reflexes aren’t the same they were even 5 years ago. In a few of years, I would not want to be on the same road with someone like me.

  2. I personally never directly talk to any of those spammers. It’s better to just ignore their calls and block their numbers immediately. Sometimes I look up the numbers on Google or some phone number directories like http://whycall.me and block if I find many reports have been filed under those numbers.

  3. I wonder, if everyone left a forwarding number of our local congressman, that it would get some action.

    Meanwhile, our cell phones are on Google Fi and it seems like they might filter some out, because we haven’t gotten any in 3 months.

    Our landline is a $5 a month VoIP, and we’ve had the number 44 years and get a lot of friends, relatives, and people we don’t know but want to talk to. So we just put up with “Bridget” and her ilk. I’ve tried saying nothing; if it’s a person they’ll say “…hello??” . If it’s the fake “windows” techs and I’m doing something else with my other hand I’ll string them along for half an hour then admit I run Linux. (I’ve learned a few Hindi swear words.) Or just put the phone down next to the radio speaker, or better yet, the toilet as I take a wizz or a dump.

  4. Do you remember those old brass police whistles? I still get spam calls, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that I temporarily destroyed the caller’s hearing.

    1. I hate to break it to you but you are not doing as much damage as you would like. Most spam calls are made by machines.

  5. I’ve had some success with the nomorobo.com website.

  6. While a great deal of scam calls are robocalls, there are still a lot of them made by humans. There are some who call me several times a day. However, since I employed the police whistle, I don’t get any more calls from a whole host of the worst offenders, like the ones who tell me about my computer viruses and the back brace my doctor supposedly wants me to wear and the diabetic supplies I absolutely need (note: I’m not diabetic and I don’t have back problems.) I estimate a 75% drop in my total calls.

    1. ” I’m not diabetic and I don’t have back problems.”
      You may not have those problems but you DO have big phone problems. With the use of proper technology (and I don’t mean the whistle) you can prevent those that call you several times a day. Unless those calls serve as your entertainment.

  7. I personally find these human type nuisance scammers as great stress relievers. I can use a huge range of profanities and feel so much better afterwards. My blood pressure has dropped dramatically over the last few years. Lol

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