Call blocking is a tool used by phone companies to stop illegal and unwanted calls from reaching your phone. A recent FCC report found that by partnering with third-party analytics companies, providers are able to block billions of unwanted calls to American consumers each year.
Phone companies sometimes block calls connected to suspicious calling patterns proactively for their customers. Many phone companies also enable their customers to block additional unwanted calls by enrolling in a service or installing an app. Consumers can also adjust certain settings on their phone, sign up with a third-party service, or download a third-party app to block suspected unwanted calls.
Depending on your service provider, a blocked call may go straight to your voicemail, you may hear a single ring and get caller ID information from the blocked call, or you may get no notice at all.
Many phone companies are taking advantage of FCC rules that allow consumers to be enrolled automatically in call blocking services, but you can opt-out if you are concerned about missing wanted calls. A number of companies also offer call labeling to help consumers determine which calls they want to answer. Labeling services display categories for potentially unwanted or illegal calls such as "spam" or "scam likely" on the caller ID display.
Contact your phone company to learn more about the blocking and labeling solutions that may be available to protect you from unwanted and illegal calls. There may also be apps you can download for your mobile device – at little or no cost – to block or label potential spam calls. In addition to call-blocking and labeling services, you should also check with your wireless device manufacturer about built-in features you can use to block unwanted calls from specific numbers using your cell phone’s settings.
The resources listed below* provide information on many of the call blocking and labeling tools currently available to consumers.
- AT&T: Mobile security and call protection services.
- Google Project Fi: Call blocking options for Project Fi wireless service.
- Sprint: Call blocking options using My Sprint.
- T-Mobile: Call-protection options to identify or block potential scammers.
- U.S. Cellular: Automatic network call identification, labeling, and blocking app options.
- Verizon: Call Filter FAQS for screening and blocking unwanted calls.
- AT&T: Information on Digital Phone Call Protect service, call blocking, and other features.
- CenturyLink: Customer tips and tools to block unwanted calls.
- Comcast: Call blocking options for XFINITY Voice subscribers.
- Frontier Communications: Consumer options for call blocking tools and services.
- Spectrum: Guide for using Nomorobo service to block robocallers.
- Verizon: Customer options for stopping unwanted calls to residential lines.
Third-Party Analytics Resources
- First Orion: Tools and services for mobile customers and businesses.
- Hiya: Tools and services for mobile phones; Hiya Connect for businesses.
- Nomorobo: Tools and services for VoIP landlines and mobile phones.
- TNS Call Guardian: Call analytics solutions for businesses.
- YouMail: Tools and services for individuals and businesses.
Wireless Device Solutions
- Apple iPhones have an opt-in “Silence Unknown Callers” call-screening and blocking feature.
- Google Pixel phones have a “Call Screen” call-screening and blocking feature; Google offers several free, opt-in, call-blocking tool apps for Android phones; and Google Voice users can use a call management tool to block unwanted calls.
- Samsung partners with Hiya to offer a call-blocking solution called Smart Call to label potentially unwanted calls.
Trade Association Consumer Resources and Information
- CTIA: Consumer resources for stopping robocalls.
- US Telecom: Consumer information on illegal robocalls.
*The resources listed are provided for informational purposes. The FCC does not endorse any products or services listed, and is not responsible for the content, accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of non-FCC websites.