Skip to main content

Unwanted Phone Calls and How to Stop Them

Out of personal experience, Chris writes practical and helpful articles about how to make items and accomplish tasks.


Spam, Scam and Spoof Calls

Americans are receiving an increasing number of unsolicited phone calls according to an article published on in May, 2017. Between February and April, the number of these calls went up by 13.6%. The average person received 7.7 calls per day. All of us combined get more than 2.5 billion calls per month.

Who are the people making these calls? What do they want? Because it is a complicated subject, most of us tend to lump these callers together. In reality, those who contact us are legitimate telemarketers, illegal phishing callers, creditors, private investigators, and law enforcement. Most, if not all, of these calls are unwanted, but not all of them are illegal.

Let’s look at three kinds of phone calls that represent most of the unsolicited calls we receive.

Spam Calls

Spam is a type of nuisance call that is unsolicited but legal. The name originated from a Monty Python Flying Circus skit aired in 1970. The word Spam was used repeatedly by people in the skit so that all other dialogue was unheard. The Spam being referred to in the sketch was the canned meat product by that name.

Spam calls are a legitimate and legal form of advertising for companies with real products and services. The idea behind spamming is to disseminate as much product information as possible to as many people as possible believing that the number of positive responses will justify the effort. This is the shotgun approach to marketing.


Scam Calls

A scam is a confidence trick whereby the con (confidence) man gains the confidence of his audience prior to defrauding them.

Scam phone calls are confidence tricks or con games. They are fraudulent or deceptive calls from entities seeking to steal money or personal, financial information, a tactic known as phishing.

Scam callers offer products at special prices or free if associated with a contest. Some ask for money to cover unpaid taxes or credit card bills even if the person who receives the call is not in any way delinquent. These swindlers want either money or personal information such as a credit card number or Social Security number.

Spam and Scam are spelled similarly, but that is the end of any likeness. Spam calls are legal marketing calls. Scam calls are illegal and are made by people who want to steal your money or personal, financial information.

Joker Card From a Spoof Card Game


Spoof Calls

A spoofed call means the person calling uses technology that feeds caller ID a false location for the origin of the call. It might be a random location or one in the same area code as the person being called. It depends on what serves the purpose of the caller.

The word, spoof, was created as part of a card game produced by Milton-Bradley in 1918. The player who is less attentive or slower than the others is given the name, spoof, and is required to perform ridiculous tasks for the other players. On a spoof phone call, the caller is able to get the upper hand by masking their location and pulling the wool over the eyes of the person being called. It seems to be a tenuous connection between the card game and the phone call, but this is assumed to be the origin of the word spoof.

Anyone who wants to hide their real location could use this technology to fool caller ID. Private detectives, law enforcement, and debt collectors use spoof calls to hide their true locations. Often, these calls will begin with the same area code and prefix as the person being called. This is used to bait the person into answering the call. CraigsList scammers use it to appear not to be in the same region as the person selling an item. Spammers and scammers use spoof calls to appear to be a call from a local retailer.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Toughnickel

What You Can Do to Take Control

Spammers are usually legitimate marketers making unsolicited phone calls. Scammers are criminals seeking money or personal, financial information. Spoofers can be either legitimate callers or people with illegal interests.

What can we do about these calls? The federal Do Not Call Registry can be reached at 1-888-382-1222, but it has not been very successful. Unscrupulous marketers simply ignore the list.

Here are a few ways you can use available technology to control the calls that come to your cell phone, landline or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone.



Nomorobo is a free service. Calls are intercepted after the first ring and blocked using the FTC-assisted blacklist. Legitimate calls go through for a second ring. Illegal robocalls are intercepted and disconnected. This service works only with internet-based VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems. (Phones that come bundled with Internet).


iPhones: You can use Do Not Disturb to silence all calls except those you choose from your call list. For iOS 7 or above, find Recents under the keypad. To the far right of each number is an information sign (i in a circle). Tap this to bring up instructions for blocking the number.

Android Phone

Android Phones allow you to set the phone to Privacy Mode to get only preapproved calls and those you choose from your contact list. With Call Rejection you can send calls directly to voicemail. Call Control Call Blocker by the Kedlin Co, DroidBlock and Call Filter are other apps you can use on your Android device.

Call Blocking Through Cell Phone Service Providers

Cell Service Providers-Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and others have their own call blocking services, usually for a fee. Call your provider for details.

Take Control of Your Phone


Take Control

You are not helpless when it comes to unsolicited, nuisance calls. You know who they are and why they are calling. You have the information to block some of these calls. Find the method that is best for you and take control of the people who have access to your personal life.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: How can a person prevent a second heart attack?

Answer: Since I am not a physician, I cannot give specific medical advice that might prevent someone from having a second heart attack. Only that person's doctor knows their condition well enough to answer this question. We are all aware that a good diet is essential for good health. Beyond that, only this person's physician can recommend or caution against physical exercise at this time. A person in this situation should consult their physician and follow his or her specific recommendations.

© 2017 Chris Mills


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 24, 2018:

Helen, Thanks for visiting. These phone calls go beyond annoying. They are an invasion into our personal lives that I find unacceptable. In the meantime, there are ways to deflect and prevent some of them. Good luck.

H Lax on March 24, 2018:

Your research on this is stellar. I have been getting all the calls you've brought up in here daily. They start at 8 a.m. and have came in as late as 8:30 p.m. and they even call on Sundays. I haven't answered my phone in over a year unless I know the number.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on January 13, 2018:

Hi Chris

Thanks for this helpful information about unwanted phone calls. I don't get many of these and when I do I abruptly hang up. My pet peeve is a call that congratulates me for an all expense paid trip to some condo in Florida. Ha!

Rochelle Ann De Zoysa from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka on January 09, 2018:

Informative article :) Thank you for sharing :) Hope you have a Blessed New Year :) Take care :)

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on November 24, 2017:

Graham, it's good to see you today. I'm glad you like the article. I hope it helps.

oldalbion on November 24, 2017:

Hi Chris. A tip top hub really helpful, in the UK we have exactly the same problems.


manatita44 from london on November 06, 2017:

Yes, Bro.

I have had some scams myself. It is a great nuisance. They even call you at work and weekends.

Informative Hub and some knowledge of the terms and how to deal with scammers plus. Peace.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on November 05, 2017:

Suhail, I think you will be able to make a dent in the remainder of the calls, but they keep changing with the ways we avoid them. Good luck. Glad to hear your government has been actively working on this issue. My feeling is that phones and email are private and should be covered by privacy laws. Television, internet and radio are fair game.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on November 05, 2017:

Hi Chris,

Thanks to Canada Radio and Telecommunication Corporation's interference, junk marketing calls have reduced, but we still do get them because the con-artists call from their call centres from abroad.

I will look into your suggested methods to see if I can get rid of the remainder.


Suhail and my dog K2

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on November 05, 2017:

Peg, it is capitalism gone haywire as far as I am concerned. I say let our televisions and radios be open for advertisers, but our emails and phones should be our uninvaded, private places.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on November 05, 2017:

You're so right as to the increase in these nuisance calls, no matter what they're called. I get several robo calls a day and often get "Microsoft" assistance calls with so called support people trying to access my computer. Beyond the surveys, trip award calls, spam and the rest my phone rings all the time. Thanks for the tips in blocking and preventing these calls.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on November 04, 2017:

Melody, If you need that second line other than cell phones, you might the VoIP phones that cable companies sell. They have a lot of success controlling nuisance calls.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on November 04, 2017:

Shyron, that is called spoofing. they have to have some special equipment, but they can totally change their location to anywhere they want it to be. The Do Not Call list only works if the marketers obey the law, which many don't.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on November 04, 2017:

Becky, when I have talked with people online about credit cards, It was so unsettling to know that I was speaking with a criminal. I knew and he knew it. How hardcore is that? He just kept lying.

Melody Lassalle from California on November 04, 2017:

We still have a landline and most of our nuisance calls come this way. Our best method is to let all calls go to the machine. They hang up before it gets that far.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on November 04, 2017:

Chris, yes I get these calls all the time and I am on the National DO-NOT-CALL list. But these evil people have a way around this. They use someone's phone number that is in the U.S. and use it as a spring board to you phone or anyone else and you cannot trace it.

I will have to come back to read this.

Blessings my friend

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on November 04, 2017:

Glad you have the do not call registry number. I lost it and need it again. I keep getting calls alerting me to a problem with my credit card. One major problem with that is, I do not have a credit card. I refuse to have one and do not need one. The other one I keep getting is a boat horn blasting. I hate that one, because it is at a pitch that hurts my ears. I have sensitive hearing and my kids always complained they could not get away with anything. My husband complained that he could not plan a surprise for me while I was in the house. I would hear them.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on November 04, 2017:

Bill, I cannot imagine these companies make a dime on the spam. But I suppose with a country of 350 million, there are people who will talk to them. It is a mystery to me.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on November 04, 2017:

Eric, I'm with Bill on this one. I don't answer the phone unless I know who it is. I can monitor the voicemail. More credit cards....hang up on 'em.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 04, 2017:

We simply do not answer the phone unless we recognize the number. . . and there are a ton of calls we don't answer. Scammers seem to be everywhere working around the clock.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 04, 2017:

I like this. For some reason I only get calls to switch to a credit card.

Related Articles