A rotary dial telephone and its handset jumping in the air at an angle.

There are four main ways to reduce spam and sales calls — register on the do-not-call registry, change the phone settings, use your carrier’s spam-blocking solutions, or try a third-party app. But why does the phone ring more than it should, and what are the risks of answering a spam call? Let’s delve deeper and find out!

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    What is a spam call?

    Spam or scam calls are unsolicited calls that often try to trick or scam the recipient. Scam calls have many forms — telemarketing, robocalls, and scams related to the IRS or insurance. Carriers often flag suspicious numbers by displaying them as Spam or Scam Likely.

    Note: the term spam comes from a 1970s Monty Python sketch where two café customers try to order breakfast from a menu that includes Spam in almost every dish, much to the dismay of one of the customers.

    Why am I getting spam calls?

    One common reason you may be receiving a lot of spam calls is data leaks.

    Data leaks happen when a company with your credentials suffers a data breach by hackers, who sell the stolen info on the dark web. Scammers buy that info in bulk and use it to call many people, hoping a potential victim will pick up the phone and take the bait.

    Of course, there are more reasons for receiving spam calls:

    • A scammer may have found your number on social media. People who put their numbers on their profiles often are spam targets;
    • You may have interacted with a scammer by responding to a phishing email or clicking on a link in a spam message. If you do so, Scammers can see that your phone number is active and add you to their list of potential targets;
    • You may have signed up for a service that shares your information. Some services ask for a phone number as part of the registration and later share your info with third parties;
    • You may be reusing an old number targeted for spam calls. Usually, it happens when you get a new phone number that has been previously used by someone else. Scammers may continue to call the number, hoping to reach the previous owner;
    • Your number may be on a robocall list. Marketers and scammers use robocall software — automated systems that can call many phone numbers simultaneously.

    Overseas spam callers reach you by spoofing their phone numbers and routing their calls through the web. Do Not Call lists and most spam filters have little to no value in these cases.

    Tip: try Incogni! If you’re getting an overwhelming amount of spam calls, it may be that a data broker recently sold your data to a third party (e.g., a marketer). You can reduce the potential for future spam if you use a data removal service like Incogni.

    Data brokers are required by law to remove the user’s data if requested. Incogni contacts them on your behalf and requests they remove your data from their databases.

    Reduce the potential for spam
    And stay protected online

    What are the risks of getting spam calls?

    There aren’t risks in receiving calls, but there are in answering them. The most common risks when you answer a spam call:

    • Your phone bill could go up. Some carrier plans charge for the calls you receive;
    • More scammers will target you. If you pick up, they’ll see your number is active;
    • Scammers could record your voice and use it. They can record specific phrases (yes, no, stop, I agree) used for audio authorization.

    Less often encountered but more significant risks of answering spam calls are associated with falling for a scam:

    • You can become the victim of identity theft. Scammers may impersonate businesses you trust and scare you into sharing your social security number;
    • Hackers can break into online accounts using different phishing techniques. Usually, they pretend to be from “tech support” or a “customer representative” and ask for login information.

    How to get spam calls to stop

    Assuming you’re a US citizen, register your number on the Do Not Call registry online by visiting DoNotCall.gov. Or call 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY). Other general techniques to stop spam calls are:

    • Download a call-filtering app;
    • Use your mobile carrier’s spam call blocker;
    • Block unknown callers on your device;
    • Get a new number.

    Most spam calls are made by marketers and scammers, who use robocall software — an auto-dialing app that simultaneously makes tons of calls with pre-recorded messages.

    So, let’s see how to stop robocalls, legal or otherwise, on mainly used devices — Apple, Android, and landline phones.

    How to stop spam calls on iPhone

    There’s an in-built option on iPhone to block spam calls — Silence Unknown Callers. To enable it, go to Settings, Phone, and tap Silence Unknown Callers.

    Additionally, you can turn on the Call Blocking & Identification feature. To do so, open Settings, tap Phone, find Call Blocking & Identification, and turn on Business Connect ID, Carrier Call ID, and Call Identification apps.

    With these three turned on, the caller’s info will be identified by Apple Business Connect, your carrier, and the caller ID apps you have installed on your device. If at least one of the databases has the caller flagged as potential spam, the number is blocked.

    Another way to stop spam calls on your iPhone is to get an app that stops robocalls. Here are some apps you could try:

    How to stop spam calls on Android

    Block unwanted calls on Android by going to the Phone app, tap the three-dot icon, then Settings, and choose Spam and Call Screen. Toggle on Caller ID and spam protection, tap Block numbers, and toggle on Block spam and scam calls.


    If you have Google’s dialer as your Android’s default phone app, open it, tap the three-dot icon, tap Settings, then tap caller ID and spam, and enable filter spam calls to start automatically blocking calls.

    How to stop spam calls on a landline phone

    Registering your number on the Do Not Call registry doesn’t work against scammers or overly aggressive marketers. Try these steps to stop unwanted phone calls on your landline:

    • Change your number and only share it with your family, doctor, and financial institutions;
    • Block a number after you receive the spam call. For US citizens, dial *60 on your receiver and follow the message’s instructions on how to block a number. To block the most recent call, dial #01#;
    • Install a robocall blocking service on your landline. Such services act like a call filter. Also, when someone calls your number, they won’t hear the beep but will be asked to press 1 to connect. Robocall software can’t press 1, and the call doesn’t reach your phone.

    Final thoughts

    Blocking unwanted calls or reporting them alone won’t do much. The best way to stop them is to use all measures simultaneously. Aside from what was mentioned, be careful whom you give your phone number to, take it off your social platforms, and don’t use it when registering (unless you have to).

    Protect yourself against online threats
    Including online spam


    How do I stop spam calls permanently?

    There’s no way to stop spam permanently, but you can minimize it by following these steps:

    1. Block spam numbers.
    2. Report unwanted calls.
    3. Don’t answer if the incoming call reads Spam or Scam Likely.
    4. Use call-blocking services.
    5. Get a new phone number (worst-case scenario).

    Why am I getting so many spam calls all of a sudden?

    There are two reasons why you’re suddenly getting spammed:

    • A data broker may have recently sold your details (your phone number included) to a marketer who’s trying to sell their wares;
    • A company with your details may have experienced a leak, and your number landed on a scammer’s lap.

    How do I remove my number from the spam list?

    The FTC suggests calling 1-888-382-1222 from the device you want to be removed from the list. To reduce the potential for spam, you can use Incogni and remove your data from the data broker’s databases.

    What happens if your number is reported as spam?

    If your number is reported as spam, it gets blocked by the person who reported it, and if you try to reach them again, the call is automatically missed and sent to voicemail. All spam voicemail and spam calls are sent to the spam folder on your device.

    If a carrier has flagged your number as suspicious, your number can be blocked altogether.