How To Block Calls To My iPhone?
May 8, 2012 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Got myself a new iPhone and a new number last month. Now, I get spam calls several times a day from the same number. I'm on ATT and the only way to block numbers is to pay extra. I've installed a "silent" ringtone for that number, but they seem able to make the phone ring despite that. How can I block this number?
posted by justcorbly to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Try using the Google Voice app? I don't know how it works if the calls are to your real phone number, but worth a try?

Also, purely anecdotal, but if it's a telemarketer, I generally pick up and refrain from saying anything. The computer (I'm assuming) on the other end doesn't connect you to the telemarketer unless you say something. Eventually, the computer hangs up, and I don't seem to get calls from them again.
posted by retypepassword at 5:38 PM on May 8, 2012

What model phone do you have?
posted by jmd97 at 5:43 PM on May 8, 2012

A 4s, jmd97.
posted by justcorbly at 5:52 PM on May 8, 2012

You can't blacklist calls on iPhones unless you jailbreak. There's a jailbreak app I haven't used called iBlacklist that may help.

If you don't want to jailbreak, having a silent ringtone will make the phone take the call but not make any noise (unless you have vibrate on... there's settings in the accessibility that let you customize the vibration alert for the hearing impaired... so you could create a custom vibration that is just a split second vibrate if you want to have vibrate on for your other calls). You'll need to pay $12 for that app. Depending on your iPhone model, it may be easy or hard to jailbreak. Someone else can post links to how to do that.

What I do is add nuisance numbers to a single entry in my phonebook with the silence ringtone. If I happen to notice them calling I'll tap on the top button twice which sends them to voicemail. Eventually they give up.

You can port your number to Google Voice for a fee and then you'd be able to block the calls and all the other features of Google Voice. That would mean your current number you gave out to your contacts will still reach you. The trouble is when you start to port the number, it breaks your contract so you have to call AT&T and have them set up the new number (which may be on some list as well or could be worse with more unwanted calls ) and straighten it out.
posted by birdherder at 5:55 PM on May 8, 2012

It's only been a months since you've had this number. Is it more expensive to block the calls or get another new number? I'd go so far as to complain that this number they gave you has been receiving spam calls from day 1 and you're not happy - maybe they'll switch you for free or discount.
posted by lizbunny at 5:58 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you answered the call and asked them not to call you ever again? It's worked for me a couple of times in the past, although for one number I had to ask repeatedly.
posted by halogen at 6:59 PM on May 8, 2012

Google Voice will just give you a new number to hand out. GV will only be able to help you for people that call that number.

I suggest getting a new phone number as was already suggested. I think that the provider should give you the new number for free given the issues you are having with it. If they won't, can you still return the phone and switch providers?
posted by nickerbocker at 7:22 PM on May 8, 2012

For what it's worth, I put all of my numbers on the Do Not Call registries even though mobile and business numbers are theoretically not supposed to be eligible. It's reduced the spam and robo-calls substantially; apparently not much cross-checking occurs.
posted by carmicha at 8:39 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the responses.

I already use Google Voice. I don't want to port the new number there.

The web says the calls are coming from ICSystems, which is a bottom-feeding medical collections agency in New Hampshire. If the web is to be believed, they use many different numbers to make robocalls. I haven't answered any of the calls, but reportedly if you do no one answers. They cut the calls after two rings. So it seems to be intended only to harass.

I'm in DoNotCall but it will be a few weeks before that's active. I'm not sure if DoNotCall applies to anything other than telemarketing.

I'm using a silent ringtone for the number. However, either I repeatedly botch the setup or they have a way of pushing around it. E.g., I install it. They call. Phone rings. I look at their contact listing and find that the silent ringtone has been removed.
posted by justcorbly at 4:05 AM on May 9, 2012

I second (or third) getting a new number, unless you have a really cool one and don't want to change it.

Otherwise these are what I would try:

1) pick up and see if there is a human being on the other end. And tell them you're not interested, or they have the wrong number, the person you're trying to reach is not at this number....or whatever.

2) pick up and say "PIZZA HOUSE!!" in a loud voice until they get the hint and stop calling.

3) get a google voice number and filter your calls that way.

Good luck.
posted by eatcake at 4:18 AM on May 9, 2012

Have you tried Youmail? If you can add the number to your contact list, you should be able to send them straight to voicemail or a pre-recorded message.

of course, you have to send *all* your voicemail there, which may be a pain - but a boss of mine used to use it to get transcriptions of his voicemail, since he hated to check it.
posted by needlegrrl at 5:42 AM on May 9, 2012

For repeat spam calls I answer, "Casey's" in a loud, irritated voice. The person on the other end usually asks if this is a business and I tell them, "It's a bar, whaddaya need?" and they apologize and never call again. This has worked multiple times and cut my spam calls to a very slow trickle. I think the key is to use the same fake name/biz every time.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:26 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I inherited a number used by at least three previous people. All three have bill collectors after them. My outgoing message for the last three years has been, "This is not Maurice. This is not Kim. This is not Priscilla. If you're a friend of one of those people, I'm sorry you've got the wrong number. If you're a bill collector looking for one of those people, STOP CALLING MY PHONE!"

I still get at least one call a week looking for a previous user of my number.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:44 AM on May 9, 2012

(IANAL) It's harassment. Answer; ask them to identify themselves, explain that you just got this phone #, and that they are harassing you, and may not contact you at this number. Tell them you will not tolerate continued harassment. Call AT&T, and get them to help you; they are supposed to assist in cases of harassment. Consider calling your state's Attorney General (they're supposed to handle consumer protection) and the FCC. Or, take it to the Consumerist.

Do I have any recourse if I think a debt collector has violated the law?

You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated. If you win, the judge can require the collector to pay you for any damages you can prove you suffered because of the illegal collection practices, like lost wages and medical bills. The judge can require the debt collector to pay you up to $1,000, even if you can’t prove that you suffered actual damages. You also can be reimbursed for your attorney’s fees and court costs. A group of people also may sue a debt collector as part of a class action lawsuit and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or one percent of the collector’s net worth, whichever amount is lower. Even if a debt collector violates the FDCPA in trying to collect a debt, the debt does not go away if you owe it.
posted by theora55 at 8:03 PM on May 9, 2012

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