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How to Block Annoying Phone Calls and Text Messages

by Sarah Dobson on April 13, 2020

Junk phone calls are a vexation of the modern world. You’re enjoying a slice of pizza and minding your own business when your iPhone rings. You grab your iPhone, hoping it’s a friend. In fact, you don’t recognize the incoming number, but it is in the same exchange as your phone number, suggesting that it’s someone you know. But no. When you answer, it’s “Vicky,” wanting to help you consolidate credit card debt. Angered by the interruption, you slap the red hangup button, wishing you had an old-style telephone receiver to slam down.

Although you can ask these scum-sucking bottom feeders to remove you from their call list, that may not accomplish much. There are ways of dealing with telemarketers, though, along with less-sophisticated businesses who always call from the same number and calls you never want to take from annoying people.

Using Call Blocking

If a local business or prank-calling kid keeps harassing you by phone, the best option is to block the incoming number. Open the Recents screen in the Phone app, find the call, and tap the call’s i button. Then scroll to the bottom and tap Block This Caller. A blocked caller can still leave voicemail, but you won’t receive it. In fact, you’ll have no indication that they’ve called.

You can also block FaceTime callers—tap the i next to the phone number, scroll to the bottom of the screen, and tap Block This Caller. This technique even works in the Messages app, where you can open a conversation, tap the i button at the upper right of the screen, tap the caller’s number or name, scroll to the bottom, and then tap Block This Caller.

Should you want to unblock a caller, go back to Settings > Phone > Call Blocking & Identification, slide left on the number, and tap Unblock.

What If Blocking Isn’t Enough?

Unfortunately, blocking numbers won’t help with most telemarketers, who may call with the same recorded message from multiple different phone numbers. If you’re receiving an aggravating number of junk calls, the good news is that a call blocking app can probably solve your problem. These apps, which use special behind-the-scenes features that Apple provides to app developers, provide you with a way to manage, block, and even report junk calls.

Some of the best reviewed are Mr. Number, Hiya, RoboKiller, and Truecaller. Mr. Number and Hiya are both free and from the same company—Mr. Number is a stripped-down version of Hiya—whereas RoboKiller and Truecaller require an in-app purchase for a monthly membership. If you receive a call from a number known to be used by a telemarketer, the app can either identify it on the incoming call screen or block it automatically, sending it to voicemail.

To enable one of these apps, after you’ve downloaded it from the App Store, go to Settings > Phone > Call Blocking & Identification and turn on its switch. If you’ve installed and enabled more than one of these apps, you can also re-order them in the list to set which app has priority—tap Edit at the upper right, drag the little grab handles that appear next to each app, and then tap Done at the upper right.

You’ll also have to do some setup in the app itself, providing your phone number, perhaps creating an account, and specifying what should happen with different types of calls.

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