Tech & The Web

Apps Can Help Block Telemarketers and Warn of Scams

If you’re looking for a way to be alerted to possible scams or just block telemarketers, there are multiple apps that can help.

The calls begin with a recording that goes something like this:

“Hi, this is Marie from Credit Card Services and I’m calling about your credit card account. Don’t worry, there’s no problem with your account, but we want to make sure you take action now to lower your credit card interest rates.”

If you sit through the relatively short recording and press the number it suggests that will get you to a human being, you are connected to someone who has no idea what your credit card debt may or may not be, and cannot name any specific credit card you actually have.

If pressed lightly for more information, they will claim they are a third-party company that does the billing for your credit card. But they still can’t name which bank or credit card they’re handling billing for.

If pressed a little more, they typically just hang up.

Not exactly a sign that they’re legit, is it?

There are a variety of apps that can not only block phone numbers from people you suspect are spammers, but can also allow you to report those numbers and alert you when an incoming call is from a number someone else has already reported.

Macworld reported recently on apps that can help track phone numbers to determine if they are legitimate.

It recommends “Hiya:”

Hiya displays a red “do not enter” style shield next to calls it identifies definitively as a “scam or fraud.”

Techlicious has a list of apps that can help. It recommends Mr. Number as a great app to help you block spam and Truecaller as the best choice to help you identify numbers.

I’m trying out both Mr. Number and Hiya, which seem very similar in look and operation so far. I definitely like being able to look up a number, particularly when an auto-dialer connects me before a human is actually available to talk and I wind up with a cut call from apparently no one. I’m able to identify those numbers as reported spam numbers then block them before they can try again.

You can also click here to verify that your landline or cell phone is on the federal Do Not Call list. Unfortunately, that doesn’t guarantee all of the calls will stop: the FTC website verified that my number has been registered since October 2007 — 10 years now!! — but I’m still getting them.

But thanks to technology, at least we have a few tools to help us dodge those who are willing to ignore the law.

How do you handle unwanted calls? Have you found a way to block them once and for all?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.