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The greatest aspect of the telephone? The fact that you can speak to anyone at a moment’s notice, even if they’re halfway across the world. Sit back and think about that for a second because it’s amazing. But there’s also a drawback: spammers can constantly attempt to reach you with texts and calls and you may feel helpless against the endless barrage.
Fortunately for us all, there are actually a few measures we can take to protect ourselves against phone spammers and telemarketers. Some of these measures are more serious than others (e.g., inflicting financial fines against the perpetrators) and others are just for our own sanity and peace of mind. Check them out and use the ones that work best for you.
Forward to 7726 (SPAM)
If you’re suffering from text spam, this solution might help you out (and others as well). Text spam can come from a lot of sources, though usually the spammers get your number from online contact forms and public profiles. If you truly want to stop all future text spam, don’t ever give your number away. Ever.
But when you do receive text spam, forward it to 7726 (the keypad combo for the word SPAM). Your wireless carrier will send you a reply asking you for the phone number that sourced the text. Text them back and your carrier will block that number from sending out any more unsolicited spam.
I’m not sure how many mobile carriers utilize this service, but it definitely works for Verizon and AT&T. If you want to make sure that your carrier has something similar, search Google for your carrier’s name and the phrase “text spam.” This works in the US, but your mileage may vary in other countries.
Report to a Phone Spam Service
Text spam may not be your biggest problem; what about phone call spam? Most phone call spam arrives in the form of telemarketers, and they usually call when you’re about to sit down for a hearty meal of dinner. Other forms of phone spam can occur all throughout the day and they’re all equally annoying. How can you hit them where it hurts?
If you live in the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a form that you can fill out. It’s the 1088G complaint form and I’ve heard that it’s quite effective on a personal level. It’s not even inconvenient since you can just fill out the 1088G form online, never having to leave the comfort of your desk chair.
If you live outside the US, you may be able to find a similar complaint service to report spam callers. In the UK, for example, you could try complaining to the ICO.
Register for DoNotCall
If you want to be more proactive about not receiving spam calls, there are services that will place you on a “do not call me” list. Conveniently, the service is called DoNotCall by the FCC. Register your number and you’ll stop receiving calls after a month. If you do receive a call after a month, you can report the number to the FCC and the spammer will suffer some serious fines.
If you’ve been badgered to sign up for a “do not call” listing, then there’s a good chance it was a fake service that actually farmed your phone number. Here’s a notice by the official DoNotCall service:
Scammers have been making phone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry. The calls claim to provide an opportunity to sign up for the Registry. These calls are not coming from the Registry or the Federal Trade Commission, and you should not respond to these calls.
Of course, the DoNotCall registry is only for the US. If you live outside the US, you may be able to find a similar spam-call-blocker service to keep yourself protected from unsolicited calls. In the UK, you might try Ofcom’s TPS service. For other countries, you’ll need to do some Google searching of your own.
Create a SPAM Contact
If you don’t want to mess with call registries and complaints, you could go the passive route by creating a SPAM contact on your phone. With this SPAM contact, you just pick up calls as normal when they come in. If the caller happens to be spam, then you add that number under the SPAM contact.
Now, every time a previous spammer calls you again, you’ll see it come up as SPAM and you can ignore it. You can even set a custom ringtone for the SPAM contact as 30 seconds of silence and you won’t even be bothered when they call. Of course, with this method, you’ll have to deal with a spammer before you can block them AND it only works if your phone allows multiple phone numbers per contact.
And now you have four methods of dealing with telephone spam under different circumstances. Be wary that even when you take measures against spam callers, they’re always trying to engineer new ways to spam their messages to innocent phone owners… just like with email spam. But if you follow the suggestions above, you can at least reduce their impact on your life for now.
Have any other ideas and suggestions for dealing with phone spammers? Please share them with us in the comments!