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How to Stop Unwanted Calls and Messages

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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 aware of the privacy policy of any business before you provide your cell phone number. Providing it may not only allow them to contact you with additional offers but in some instances, they will sell your information for others to use. Keep this in mind even in the non-internet world.
  • 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 spam@uce.gov.
  • 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

  • Verizon Wireless
    Setting up and managing blocked calls
  • AT&T
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  • T-Mobile
    Instructions on blocking telemarketing and robocalls and messages.
  • Sprint
    Information on how to set up call and text blocking.

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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2008 Ruth Coffee

Stop Unwanted Calls and Messages: Was this page helpful? Let us know!

anonymous on June 03, 2013:

I get text messages and have to pay for the priviliage (shocker) I applied all the settings on phone to block texts (does a wonderful job) but hey ho Im still getting charged even though I now personnally don't get the text message. Can any one suggest a solution

ladyyummy on December 14, 2012:

Thank you, it was helpful :)

anonymous on September 01, 2012:

You might want to add that Virgin Moblile doesn't "support phone number blocking", as stated on the Support section of their website. For those of us that don't have a smartphone and therefore can't use SMS Blocker, it can be a real pain. I wish I'd stayed with AT&T, dead zones and all.

anonymous on August 24, 2012:

I know these people too good. They called me once or twice a week. It was just disturbing. 6 months ago I bought a phone with a blacklist feature and fed the thing with the top 10 numbers from tellows.com every month. Live couldn't be better scince then :D

anonymous on August 23, 2012:

Beware of (250) 554-1235. Makes quite a few fake solicitation calls...

antoniow on July 13, 2012:

Interesting lens, well done!

anonymous on July 02, 2012:

Thank you. Very helpful.

anonymous on June 05, 2012:

Thanks man! very useful tips!!

anonymous on May 21, 2012:

@anonymous: usually reply with just STOP is an automated way to unsubscribe to those. hope this helps

anonymous on May 19, 2012:

@anonymous: meant why doesn't :)

anonymous on May 19, 2012:

why does the government grow some balls and do something about all this BS??? do not call... means... DO NOT CALL/TEXT/COMMUNICATE in any way at all!!! MERCY... wish I had 5 minutes with those bastards in a ring :)

anonymous on May 14, 2012:

how to stop an unwanted call using www.donotcal.gov.

cooloo3z on May 13, 2012:

Excellent report on all aspects of unwanted cell phone situations. When I receive a call from an 800 or 866 number, I do a quick Google search for that number. Most results show either the name of the person or company calling and if it's spam or a bill collector or whatever.

anonymous on April 25, 2012:

I was able to block text messages, but now that person is sending message from the internet to my cell from a site called "txt2day", is there a way to block those?

anonymous on April 15, 2012:

@anonymous: DEAR CALL HER NEXT SUNDAY AND ASK HER TO TIE A RAKHI AND PRESENT HER SOMETHING FOR THIS SISTER BROTHER RELATION.O.K.

dividi on March 23, 2012:

Thanks for these useful tips!

anonymous on March 16, 2012:

@anonymous: Not a program, but contacting the police can be very effective. They have a way of getting through to psychos when nothing else works. Along those same lines, you can apply for a "no contact" order. All of which might seem like a hassle, but it's less of a hassle than being constantly harassed by a psycho.

anonymous on March 06, 2012:

This is what works for me when I need to block cell numbers http://howtofixstuff.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-b...

anonymous on March 06, 2012:

This is what works for me when I need to block cell numbers http://howtofixstuff.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-b...

anonymous on February 09, 2012:

Help! This number keeps on sending text at the wee hours of the moring > +63 917 806 0382

anonymous on February 09, 2012:

Help! This number keeps on sending text at the wee hours of the moring > +63 917 806 0382

Lemming13 on January 07, 2012:

My daughter has a problem with a bully sending her text messages on her Blackberry,; while she has blocked her on the BBM service, it seems Blackberry phones have no tool for blocking a single user from txt messaging, the only way is to block everything and then 'except' the numbers you want to allow. On my own phone I can just block a single number from calls or texts. You'd think a more advanced system would have as user-friendly a way to deal, wouldn't you? Great lens, thanks for the information.

anonymous on December 29, 2011:

Does anyone know of a text/call blocking program for non-smart cell phones? A psychobitch is harassing my family.

anonymous on December 29, 2011:

@anonymous: My friend just experienced that same harassment. She set up a google voice account and is now able to block callers. Not sure if you can block texts. She did, however, have to change her cell phone number. If you tell your phone company that you are being harassed they have to change your number free of charge.

E L Seaton from Virginia on October 10, 2011:

Thanks for more ammo to keep the undesired from reaching out and touching me.

anonymous on October 03, 2011:

a girl is calling and irritating... i don't even know her....and talk all non sense. i get call from this number +918885695336 . can any one tell me how to avoid her.

anonymous on October 03, 2011:

a girl is calling and irritating... i don't even know her....and talk all non sense. i get call from this number +918885695336 . can any one tell me how to avoid her.

anonymous on September 19, 2011:

I have been receiving text messages from a person I don't know. I strictly keep my cell phone number private, however, I still don't know how she got my number. She has been verbally harassing me and texts me degrading words that I really find annoying and abusive. I hope cell phone companies would include a feature that can block these harassers.

anonymous on September 19, 2011:

I have been receiving text messages from a person I don't know. I strictly keep my cell phone number private, however, I still don't know how she got my number. She has been verbally harassing me and texts me degrading words that I really find annoying and abusive. I hope cell phone companies would include a feature that can block these harassers.

blazingzone lm on August 24, 2011:

Thanks for all the info on how to prevent unwanted calls. I always wanted to stop having so much of those commercial cold calls.

LissaKlar LM on August 22, 2011:

i like your lens. i will be bookmarking it. Thanks!

Mosoma on August 21, 2011:

Very good lens. Thanks.

anonymous on August 09, 2011:

@aesta1: yes thats right hapend to me also ... no contract cell phones

anonymous on August 08, 2011:

I haven't had a cell phone for a while now but will sure keep this in mind for future days!

markets on June 21, 2011:

If you really wanted to stop unwanted calls and messages, you'd just have to be a better person to those around you, then there would be no unwanted calls or msgs. Just my 2 cents here :)

irenemaria from Sweden on June 18, 2011:

Important lens. Good to know stuff! Thanks

DrDebbieThompson on June 05, 2011:

Thanks for the great information! Unsolicited calls do not work for me on so many levels. When I had a public business phone is was even worse. My cell phone has been solicitor-free until this past 6 months. I think it has something to do with my new web connection and text messaging. You gave me some great ideas on how to deal with that.

TeamDealStartsH on May 20, 2011:

Lately, I've been getting calls from a collection agency that says I owe them money, but I told them I have no idea what they're talking about. They said it's fine, but they keep calling me. Definitely going to block 'em. Thanks for the great Lens!

wectery on April 20, 2011:

i am an expert in cell phone batteries. if you have any doubt in this field, please visit my site lg cell phone batteries, i will share my information with you.

UKGhostwriter on April 18, 2011:

fantastic information

anonymous on March 26, 2011:

great article,very informative.

Cynthia Davis from Pittsburgh on March 17, 2011:

Lucky Leprechaun Angel Blessings!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 07, 2011:

Some people just dial series of numbers and when they get an answer, they call and call and call. This happened to us once and we told him we will report him to the police. It did not stop so we thought of another idea. Since each time he calls, it costs him, we press answer and just leave it on. Then, we called him from our computer as often as we can especially during work hours that he finally had to turn his phone off so he could not get calls from his friends. He finally gave up and never bothered us again.

anonymous on February 13, 2011:

I am getting more unwanted calls. Because My number is fancy one, so getting many wrong calls. And the marketing calls from the service provider are also increased now. Thanks for sharing. M6.Net Windows Hosting

anonymous on February 01, 2011:

Very useful information. Thanks

mockingbird999 on January 19, 2011:

I hate getting unwanted phone calls. Thanks for the info.

Ben Reed from Redcar on January 18, 2011:

A really informative lens.

Blonde Blythe from U.S.A. on January 07, 2011:

Very informative lens! I have added it to my Cell Phones Are a Public Nuisance lens.

WorldVisionary on December 25, 2010:

Great information!

Andy-Po on November 26, 2010:

Very useful information. More than half of my calls and texts seem to be people trying to sell me things.

bt55 on November 24, 2010:

Good information. This is helpful. Some of the marketing companies do not stop,even when you are listed on the do not call list. Thank you very much!

jolou on November 22, 2010:

Yes, this was helpful. I'm on the do not call list, but still get unwanted calls. I don't answer any call if I don't recognize the phone number.

javr from British Columbia, Canada on October 29, 2010:

The do not call registry has been working well for me.

anonymous on October 24, 2010:

Try NumberCop. They block calls and text on BlackBerry and Android. http://www.numbercop.com

Brian Stephens from France on October 24, 2010:

Stopping unwanted contact in whatever form it takes is becoming more important every day in this world of instant communication. Great subject, thanks for sharing this way of stopping unwanted calls, they can be a real nuisance.

anonymous on October 15, 2010:

Very helpful info-thanks!

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on October 12, 2010:

Lots of great informations. I just got my first cell phone (no I am not technologically challenged lol, just never had the need for one before) and the last thing I want is spam! We have enough on the regular phone at home.

anonymous on October 09, 2010:

This is great information and a big help with the resources you provide. I suddenly got a rash of spam calls when Facebook opened up their members to advertisers. I ignored every call from a number I didn't know and it eventually calmed down.

I had to call the police on a text message once. Kids from my child's school were sending a text that said, "You will die at midnight if you don't forward this." I told the kid who sent it to MY phone to stop but he kept doing it. I gave his name and number to the police.

Obscure_Treasures on August 07, 2010:

You have done here an important job ,Very Impressive lens.

anonymous on July 14, 2010:

@anonymous: use mobiwatchman application by optinno....

check http://www.mobiwatchman.com

This is really useful for those who are really annoyed by the spam calls.

Do try it...

Download app from http://www.mobiwatchman.com

anonymous on July 14, 2010:

Those who want to block spam SMS can try smsblocker application by optinno.

check http://www.smsblocker.in

smsblocker automatically identify spam smses and filter them silently.

No need to maintain black list or add sender in blocklist every time.

Its very handy...

Do try it.....

anonymous on July 11, 2010:

I HAVE A CONTACT PERSON WHO WONT STOP CALLING. DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO BLOCK AN INDIVIDUAL NUMBER??

anonymous on July 02, 2010:

Thanks for the useful information. Just went over to ATT and blocked everything! (Did I mention I hate spammers?)

anonymous on June 19, 2010:

There is this app called smsBlocker. I don't know how, but it blocks spam SMS automatically. Check on www.smsBlocker.in.

anonymous on June 14, 2010:

@anonymous: hey lisa i need your help. i need to block a caller from my verizon phone. please help...

lasertek lm on May 27, 2010:

Very helpful indeed! Thanks so much for sharing.

anonymous on February 23, 2010:

T-MOBILE - Sidekick doesn't allow email alerts (as text messages) and send you a text from number 1-047-600-0000 instead. They are going to have a tool available within three days to fix it.

anonymous on February 19, 2010:

hello...i have verizon wireless.....found out u can block # from calling. blocked someone and then had to unblock ( long story).....i was curious what kind of a message the caller gets when they are blocked??????

anonymous on February 19, 2010:

I like that you think. Thank you for share very much.

markb3rns on December 21, 2009:

very helpful! thanks!

Tiddledeewinks LM on September 20, 2009:

Great 5 star lens idea and helpful. Thanks!

anonymous on September 20, 2009:

Great tips. I've actually had some people use profanity when I asked them to stop calling me. They got really, really nasty with me. It's terrible. Great lens! 5****

inkserotica on June 01, 2009:

I think some of the problem occurs because phone companies re-use old numbers. Luckily, I don't get too many because I don't have many friends, lol! ;) 5*

religions7 on May 10, 2009:

Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

Cynthia Davis from Pittsburgh on April 06, 2009:

Thanks for the great advice on blocking cell phone numbers, I learned a lot!

anonymous on March 14, 2009:

Thank you for the great tips! 5*

Now I just hope that my phone company allows me block calls and see if I have the option to disable text messaging..

julieannbrady on March 09, 2009:

I sure could have used your help this morning when that crazy 000-000-0000 person kept calling me. And it said 'out of area' too! Weird. And, later today I got hit by twitter followers trying to give me a free laptop or something else. Very strange stuff! Say -- where is that lens you mentioned -- potato salad?

anonymous on March 08, 2009:

[in reply to Kat] I remember that option, did they do away with it completely?

anonymous on March 05, 2009:

So what happened to the simple BLOCK function that used to be on most phones? You key in a code and then the areacode/number you want to BLOCK. They just get dead air when they call cuz the call does not go thru. SIMPLE and workable for most calls. The 'block unknown' can be used for a more broad filter.

I had BLOCK functionality from the late 1980s to at least the new millennium (covering several phones) but when they discontinued analog service, you could no longer do this. hmmm...sounds like it would be even simpler to do with digital tech.

Once again, we are being technologically 'controlled' by some sort of sales force at work.

scary...why don't they just put chips in our heads and get it over with.

Treasures By Brenda from Canada on March 01, 2009:

Canada has just started a national do not call program and from what I have read it has too many exceptions to be of great use. All unwanted calls bother me but the one that bothers me most is the one that comes regularly to my cell phone the number of which I do not give out to anyone -- just my immediate family, schools, that sort of thing. My cell phone almost never rings. One call a week is unusual. Now, however, I get one call a week from the company that wants to let me know my car warranty is about to expire...even though it expired long ago. I will definitely be looking to see if I can block their calls. It never occurred to me that I could do that. Thanks.

Brenda

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on February 15, 2009:

Great information and tips. Very well done. I didn't know you could sell old cell phones. I will have to see if we have any around here. I enjoyed the visit. Thank you.

anonymous on February 09, 2009:

5 stars! This is a really professional lens. awesome job! I wrote an article on Cellular Family Plans with some advised that might save people money. When you have a chance check it out. Thanks and keep up a good job!

Lee Hansen from Vermont on January 07, 2009:

Plenty of solid advice - nicely done.

rebeccahiatt on October 21, 2008:

Fantastic information, I finally registered for the do not call list.

Steelecommerce on August 27, 2008:

Excellent lens, good info on unwanted calls, 5 Stars.

JenniferAkers LM on August 02, 2008:

Great resource! I've had both unwanted calls, messages, and texts. My cell phone provider is pretty good about helping, but it is frustrating.

Thanks for the extra ideas!

WhippetTalk on August 01, 2008:

Great! I'm adding this to my lens about Cell Phones. It's one of my pet peeves about cell phones. Great lens. 5*s