How to block spam calls on your smartphone

If you own a cellphone in South Africa, chances are you have received spam calls.

Whether its telemarketers, scammers, or just automated messages from companies, these can seem a constant and inevitable annoyance.

People in developing markets like South Africa are especially affected by spam calls, and South Africans receive an average of 21 spam calls each month.

Almost half of these calls are scams or other fraudulent schemes looking to prey on gullible users.

There are a number of ways to stop these phone calls from reaching you, however.

We have outlined how you can block spam calls on your smartphone below.

Dedicated apps

While certain smartphones have features that block unwanted calls, not many automatically filter calls by comparing caller IDs to a public database of known spam callers.

For this, you will need to download an app like TrueCaller, which identifies and blocks spammers – while also identifying the caller ID of private numbers.

There are other call-blocking apps available for both Android and iOS, including Whoscall, Showcaller, and CallerSmart.

Certain devices, such as Samsung’s Galaxy S and Galaxy Note smartphones, come with spam call protection built-in, with the device’s operating system screening calls for direct marketing-related numbers.

Apple allows iPhone users to block specific numbers, but they will still need to download a third-party app to screen private numbers and unknown callers.

Do not contact and list removal

If you are called by a telemarketer, there are also ways to prevent them from contacting you in future.

You can do this by invoking the right afforded to consumers by the Consumer Protection Act to opt out of direct marketing.

Upon being called by a telemarketing company or other unsolicited advertiser, you need to ask the caller to stop making contact or remove you from their database.

The calling company is required to respect your wishes and no longer call you for direct marketing purposes.

A more proactive approach would be to opt out of direct marketing through the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA).

This organisation operates a Do Not Contact (DNC) service and the National Opt Out Registrar, which users can register their details on to prevent being contacted by marketing calls.

Once on this list, marketing agents affiliated with DMASA are not allowed to contact you without permission.

This does not deter scammers from calling you – or companies which are not members of the DMASA – but it can help to reduce the volume of telemarketing calls you receive.

Now read: How load-shedding takes down mobile networks

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How to block spam calls on your smartphone