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Here's a way to block unknown callers from your smartphone

While experts say the best way to stop unwanted calls in to ignore them, Consumer Reports shares ways to block unknown callers right from smart phone settings

WEST MICHIGAN - Some people feel like they're getting more robocalls in recent weeks. And they likely are. According to robocall blocking software YouMail, “Americans received just over 4 billion robocalls in January, an increase of about 3.7 percent over December."

Many of the people still getting scam calls and robocalls, have listed their own phone numbers on the National Do Not Call list. The Better Business Bureau of West Michigan says scammers really don’t care if phone numbers are on that list.

“The scammers really do not care about the do not call list as much because they are overseas," explains Troy Baker, BBB of West Michigan. "You can report them to the BBB we work with the federal trade commission the attorney general’s office.” For an individual the biggest thing they can do is just not answer the phone.”

The BBB says eventually, the scammers will mark your phone number as 'no good' and move on. But that will take time. The BBB also warns against 'toying with a scam caller, because that could just make it worse.

“As fun as it can be to mess with these people and give them a hard time, all that’s going on there is marking that that phone number is good and then in a lot of cases they’re going to have their buddies call you too.”

For people that are hoping to take legal action against phone scammers, Michigan based Consumer Lawyer Ian Lyngklip says victims will need to provide reliable information that lawyers can track. 

“They absolutely can call a lawyer," says Lyngklip. "We’re dealing with criminals, we’re dealing with people who cannot be found so if you're planning on reaching out to a lawyer and asking for help, they’re going to be looking to know who it is that needs to be sued or pursued on the consumer’s behalf. So if the consumer does not have contact information, or any information about who these people really are, going to a lawyer isn’t going to help nobody is going to take that case.”

Lyngklip says a lot of the scams targeting Michiganders are using  the pandemic and tax season to scam consumers. 

The experts that 13 ON YOUR SIDE spoke to say the best advice for getting scam calls to eventually stop, is to not answer unknown calls at all. But, if you want to take it a step further to prevent calls from interrupting your day, Consumer Reports provides the following instruction about silencing unknown callers on all smart phone devices: 

iPhones: Silence unknown callers by going to Settings, then Phone. Scroll down and tap "Silence Unknown Callers". Turn the feature on by flipping the toggle button. When a call comes in from an unknown number, the phone will not ring. They will appear in the missed call list and if a voicemail is left, you will find it in that list as well. 

Android: Block calls From unidentified callers by tapping the phone icon found at the bottom of the home screen. In the top right corner of the screen, tap the three dots, then go to Settings, then to Blocked Numbers.  

Google’s Pixel: A tool called Call Screen is built into the phone and works automatically. When a call comes in from any number, tap Screen Call on the home screen and Google Assistant will answer it the call, and you can inquire about who is calling and decide if it's a call that should be answered.

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