Tech Talk #191–November 12, 2022

Are you tired of getting spam and scam calls on your cell phone? You know, those calls about elections, solar panels, IRS problems, dubious charity donations, energy retrofits, health insurance, and all the rest.

Current cell phone technology offers ways to block these calls. But, of course, the spammers know this and have adapted. Almost all scammers and robocallers use “number spoofing” to make it hard to block them. Just because a number starts with 661 doesn’t mean that’s where the scammer is calling from.

Is it hopeless? No, there are at least three ways to fight spam calls on your cell phone.

Block ‘em

If you answer a call or get a text message that you think is a scam, don’t talk to the caller or reply to any text message with STOP, as they’ll often ask you to do. If you do either, the callers will know your number is “good” and keep calling or texting you.

When scammers call, you can block the number and report it to prevent more calls or texts. At least in theory.

Android phones can report spam calls in the Phone app; open your recent calls list, pick out the scammer’s number, and choose Block/Report Spam. Of course, not all brands of Android phones or even carriers work this way precisely, so your blockage may vary.

On an iPhone, open the Phone app and find the call in your Recents list. Next, tap the “i” button and scroll down to Block this caller.

Reporting text messages is more straightforward: No matter your phone, forward the text message to SPAM (7726) to let your carrier know about the number so it can try to block future traffic from the number.

Stop ‘em

Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile all offer services or apps that filter out spammers and scammers, sometimes before they even ring your phone. But, of course, most of the services cost money.

Are there any apps I can put on my phone that will help ID and or block spammers and scammers? The two most significant are HiYa and RoboKiller. HiYa is free, and RoboKiller is $2.49 a month.

Here they are: and

The difference between using an app and a service from your carrier is the app can stop the call from ringing your phone and let you know who it is, but the phone carriers can stop the call before it ever gets to your phone.

Silence ‘em

This is the “nuclear option,” if you will. Just set your phone to silence unknown callers for anyone not in your Contacts list.

Use your favorite search engine for Android and iPhones to look up the silence unknown callers settings for your specific phone and carrier.

And yes, some genuine calls will get blocked if the number isn’t in your contacts, but that’s what voicemail is for, right?

It’s not just me; it can’t be

Have you ever gone to YouTube to watch a video on relighting your water heater and then realized it’s three hours later, and you’re watching a tutorial on how to talk to a giraffe?

OK, just me, then.

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at

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