SPAAAAAAAM, WONDERFUL SPAAAAAAM! Kidding — it's not wonderful. You're just sitting down to catch up on Netflix and the phone rings and it's Sarah from some wildlife organization, wanting to know if you'll donate money to save the penguins. Are they endangered? No, but they're very cold. Shut up, Sarah.
While iOS 11 and later features automatic spam identification, it's not always perfect, and it doesn't block bad numbers automatically. Instead, you'll need one of these spam-blocking apps.
Note: These apps are only available for iOS 10 or later.
Third-party call blocking apps
Many third-party apps have been developed (thanks to iOS 10's openness to developers) that can alert you of a possible spam call by checking an incoming number against the app's database. You can install multiple spam blocking apps and have them work simultaneously, just in case there are any holes in any app's spam library.
Truecaller is free, though it requires some information from you before you can use it, so if that's weird to you, check out the next app. If you like free apps, however, this one works quite well, identifying spam calls so you can disregard them and not answer. You can then block those numbers so that they can't contact you again.
There is a bit of a creepy element to this one in that you can enter any number to look up the name and contact info, and you can see when your friends are free to talk, like whether or not their line is busy… Yeah. I don't know about that one. That being said, your phonebook is never made public or searchable.
- Free, in-app purchase available - Download now
According to Marco Arment of ATP podcast fame, Nomorobo is a great spam blocking app that doesn't ask for your information (no contacts or call logs — nothing), but does require a monthly subscription for $1.99.
The app is able to differentiate between necessary robocalls (school closings, states of emergency, etc.) and annoying robocalls, and you can choose to either block them outright or simply identify them and send them straight to voicemail (you know, if you're curious or whatever).
- Free, with subscription - Download now
Hiya's another free spam blocking app that can identify spam numbers as they come in. It even has certain scam numbers flagged within its database, so you'll be notified if a con artist is calling you. You can make calls right from the app and customize your caller ID, and you can perform reverse phone lookups on incoming calls to find out if they're spam, a scam, or any other malicious content.
- Free - Download now
There's nothing inherently different about Mr. Number when it comes to spam blocking apps (in fact, it's made by Hiya), but it's another freebie that works really well and is quite highly rated in the App Store. You'll get real-time alerts that warn you of incoming spam calls and you can set it to auto-block them if you just don't wanna deal with them. You can also do the whole reverse phone lookup for any number that calls you.
- Free - Download now
How to enable spam blocking apps
Once you've downloaded a good spam blocking app, you'll have to actually enable it in your iPhone's settings. Here's how:
- Launch Settings from your Home screen.
- Tap Phone.
- Tap Call Blocking & Identification.
Tap the switch next to the call blocking app you'd like to enable.
The app will now go to work whenever a call comes in, identifying spam and scams and hopefully making your phone life a little less annoying.
Some things to keep in mind
Many call blocking apps ask for access to your contacts and require your phone number to work. They, therefore, have your information, so if that doesn't sit right with you, then you're better off going with Nomorobo or another paid service that doesn't ask for access to your info. Not to be all Mr. Conspiracy Theorist, but Hiya uses Account Kit by Facebook, which is just a way to let someone sign in to your app with just a phone number or email address — no password. But come on — it's Facebook.
Just research the app you plan on using and make sure you're not inadvertently supporting the very thing you're trying to block.
Do you receive a ton of spam calls? How do you deal with them? Do you answer or do you use a third-party blocking app? Let us know in the comments below!
Updated November 2018: Added references to spam identification in iOS 11 and later.
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