Just like mailboxes, phones are often the recipients of unwanted messages, except that spam mail doesn’t ring or potentially cost you money. It’s therefore logical that many users want to prevent this from happening. There are two ways to do it, which are called “Call Barring” and “Call Blocking” and we’ll show you how to use either, or both, to your advantage.
Call Barring means that you will get your phone network to prevent calls from arriving to your number/account. This will continue to work even if you get a new phone, or possibly if you get a new number on the same account.
Call Blocking happens on the phone itself and will make the unwanted call invisible, silent or will send it to the voicemail directly. It treats the symptoms. This is also called “Call rejection” because the call arrives on the handset, which rejects it. Both techniques are responses to the same problem, but it’s nice to understand the differences.
Block a number (call rejection)
iOS / iPhone
Apple lets users block numbers under four different scenarios. We have written a complete guide to help you block unwanted calls/numbers and text messages on iPhone. Open an existing contact and search the “Block Contact” button, or in your call log, tap the “i” icon next to the unwanted caller number and tap Block. For more details, follow the link above.
Many phones have slightly different ways to block numbers and calls because Google gives phone makers a great deal of freedom to customize the experience. We have written a specific article for blocking numbers on Android phones, so read it to get more details and other solutions. For blocking SMS/Text on Android, we have a different article with many options.
Windows Phone has a built-in filter that you can access via Settings>Calls+SMS Filter. From there, you can turn the blocking feature on. Go back to the Phone interface and block it by the long-press pop-up menu.
BB phones don’t come with a built-in number blockage method for calls (it’s possible to block SMS/Text via Settings>Security>Firewall). You will need to contact your ISP and use call barring.
In this section, I’m going to address the main U.S carriers. If you live in a different country, things should work fairly similarly although you’ll need to do a bit more research, or simply contact your carrier. Fortunately, most carriers also have some kind of self-service way to do it:
AT&T doesn’t seem to have call barring capabilities and instead recommends to use call blocking on the devices themselves. On its support site, it asks users to go to a device support page, pick a device and follow instructions from there.
Verizon will let you setup call barring for up to 5 numbers. It can be done on the customer web portal. Go to:
Verizon Site>My Account>Manage Verizon Family Safeguards & Controls>Go to Call & Message Blocking Feature>Add
From there, add up to 5 numbers to be blocked, for 90 days. For a permanent block, you need to pay $4.99/mo.
For those who have a family plan, in the T-Mobile customer portal, go to:
Tools > Family Allowance > Access Family Allowances.Set unwanted numbers to “unwanted”. Add them if necessary. The block should be permanent and free. Up to 10 numbers can be blocked. T-Mobile blocking page.
In the Sprint customer portal, it’s possible to go to Preferences>Limits & Permission and block numbers from there. I no longer have a Sprint account, so I’m not sure about any limits in blocked numbers or if there are fees associated with it.
There are ways to fight against unwanted calls, but almost all require some effort on your end. If you live in the U.S, it may be worth adding your number to the Do Not Call registry by visiting www.donotcall.gov. This would also give you a legal ground to eventually sue illegal telemarketers. It’s been documented that victims can sometimes claim $500 to $1500 per unwanted call, although few people go to that length.
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