Phone scams caused a total loss of around $19.7 billion in 2020 alone, according to recent findings by analytics company The Harris Poll (via Statista). This number is expected to increase, but iPhone and Android phones can help stop malicious spam calls.
As spotted (opens in new tab) by ExpressVPN, call protection app service YouMail estimates that 22 billion annoying robocalls were placed in the United States so far in 2021. This averages out to 67 calls per person, and seeing how unsuspecting victims can be fooled into forking over private and financial information, spam calls are becoming an even bigger threat.
- Best budget phones in 2021
- Best phone deals in 2021
- Stop using your phone number for two-factor authentication — here's why
While there are multiple methods to prevent unknown callers from harassing you, including third-party apps on the App Store and Google Play Store, smartphones already have a way to protect your privacy by silencing any potentially malicious phone scams.
How to block spam calls on an iPhone
By simply blocking calls from unknown callers, Apple iPhone users can prevent any spam call threats.
Available on iOS 13 and later (on the iPhone 6S and later), the Silence Unknown Callers (opens in new tab) feature blocks phone numbers that haven't contacted a user before and aren't saved in a contacts list. To turn it on, go to the Settings app and navigate to "Phone", then scroll down, tap "Silence Unknown Callers" and switch on the feature.
These calls from unknown numbers will be silenced and sent to voicemail, and will appear in the recent calls list. However, Apple states a person who shared their phone number with a user in an email will be able to call. Watch out for phishing emails.
How to block spam calls on an Android phone
Android phones vary from one another, from the Samsung S21 Ultra to the Google Pixel 5a. But each one should have a similar method to block any unknown caller.
In the "Phone" app, tap on the three dots and navigate to Settings. From here, there should be a number of options to block unfamiliar incoming calls. For example, a Vivo smartphone brings up a "Block harassing calls" option after pressing the three dots, while the Samsung S21 offers "Call blocking" allowing users to switch on "Block anonymous calls."
While these options on both iOS and Android aren't new, the recent surge in robocalls and spam calls over the past year shows smartphone users should seek better protection. Speaking of phones, check out how to do 2FA right.