How to Stop Unwanted Calls and Messages
How to Stop Unwanted Calls and Text Messages on Your Cell Phone
Cell phones are very handy communications tools and we keep them with us nearly all of the time. However, because of their constant presence, unwanted calls and messages can become a significant problem. This type of communication can be frustrating as well as expensive if your plan requires you to pay for received messages and calls even when unsolicited.
Unwanted calls and text messages can come in the form of either SPAM or harassment. SPAM is most common and is more easily dealt with but harassing calls are more serious and sometimes require more radical action.
This page will review the precautions you should take to prevent unwanted communications and the actions you can implement to eliminate an existing problem.
Preventing Unwanted Calls and Text Messages
There are steps that you can take to try to stop unwanted calls and messages before they even happen. Some of the unwanted calls and messages from businesses, marketers, or spammers are particularly easy to prevent.
- Keep your cell phone number private. Provide it only to those individuals you trust.
- Be particularly wary of downloads to your cell phone. Your cell phone number is then available to this company and it's especially critical to use these online services only if they are a trusted site. Look for checkboxes indicating that you are giving permission for further marketing contacts when you sign up for anything online; whether you are making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting membership in something. If such additional messages or calls would be unwanted, uncheck the box, or if preferred, provide an e-mail address only.
- Signing up for the "Do Not Call Registry" should be your first step if you want to stop unwanted calls and messages. You can register your number at DoNotCall.gov.
- Never open any unwanted text messages or respond to them in any way. Either delete them or forward them to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Work to prevent phishing operations from discovering your e-mail address and number. Use an e-mail address that would be hard to guess, use both letters and numbers in it.
- Be sure all members of your family are aware of these precautions so that they don't accidentally agree to unwanted calls and messages or provide your contact information to unreliable sources.
Blocking Calls and Messages
Many spammers call from "private" numbers and other individuals may block their number as well so that it can't be identified. There are a few options available to help eliminate the frustration of such calls.
- Most modern cell phones allow the user to program their phone to block unknown and private calls which will go a long way in reducing unwanted calls and messages. Users can block after receiving an unwanted call or message or by simply adding a known number to a block list. This article from PC mag covers those options for iOS, Windows, and Android phones.
- You can also check your cell phone company's website. They typically allow you to set up filters to help eliminate unknown callers and spam. Some even allow you to block roaming and/or international calls to eliminate such excessive charges.
- Another helpful tactic is to program the cell phone to have all private/unknown calls assigned a silent ringtone so that they go unanswered and instead end up on voice mail where the user can later delete it just as they do e-mail delivered to their spam folder.
- Many unwanted calls come from blocked or restricted numbers. There are services that can deal with this if other methods aren't sufficient. TrapCall is one of several possibilities.
- Another option is to have all calls which originate from callers not on your contact list to roll to voicemail. Again, you can delete any unwanted calls later.
- If the above efforts aren't satisfactory, there are apps (such as Hiya) available to help users blacklist numbers. Using Google Voice may also be an option for blocking both unknown and known unwanted callers. Using a single Google Voice number to direct your calls to your cell phone, work phone, or home phone can provide a number of advantages but blocking unwanted calls is a major one.
Use the Tools Your Cell Phone Company Provides to Block Messages - These handy links can get you started
Stopping Harassing Cell Phone Calls and Text Messages
Spammers and persistent marketers are not the only sources of unwanted calls and messages. Other individuals may choose to harass you. Harassing another individual via their cell phone is illegal. If you've asked a caller to stop, ignored them, and still receive calls or messages, you should report it to your cellular company.
Your company can often assist in getting a caller blocked or, if necessary, help track the caller. The police should also be notified for your safety. Keeping a record of the dates, times, and a description of any call is advisable for assisting in any investigation or prosecution. Phone recording services are also available to keep evidence if things become serious.
In some circumstances, it is advisable to change your cell phone number.
This article covers some good recommendations related to cyber-stalking and harassment.
Kids and Harassing Cell Phone Calls and Text Messages
Young children who are given a cell phone sometimes have one that doesn't connect to the internet and thus the risk of spam is greatly reduced.
However, when more sophisticated phones enter the picture, risks increase. Kids need to be well versed in how to handle any inappropriate messages and calls and should be advised of some of the "rules" listed above for starters.
There are phones out there with some built-in safeguards that allow parents to set up a number of safety features including restricting or blocking calls and messages. They may also provide parental monitoring to help eliminate the threat of predators and bullies. The Kurio smartphone is one option.
Of course, there are apps like KidsMode for Android phones and other available software to help like NetSanity and NetNannySocial to restrict access to unacceptable content and provide tools for blocking calls/SMS.
© 2008 Ruth Coffee