You'd think the ability to block calls from certain numbers would be built in to most phones by now, but that's certainly not the case with the iPhone.
After dropping a few hundred bucks on a device, it'd be nice to be able to choose who you want to talk to, but beyond screening calls, there's no simple way to keep unwanted numbers from getting through.
iOS 7 does have a new feature that allows you to block numbers on your iPhone, but rather than a true block, it sends them straight to voicemail.
There's always the old practice of naming contacts "Do Not Answer," but it's much simpler to make sure you never get the call in the first place. Here are a few ways to block someone from calling you on your iPhone if you're using iOS 6 or earlier, whether you're jailbroken or not. Most of these options will work with iOS 7, too.
Most carriers offer a call block feature that allows you to create a list of numbers you don't want to hear from. Some offer a limited number of blocks for free, but most require you to pay a monthly fee for permanent blocking or for more than five numbers.
If you ask me, spam is spam, and we shouldn't have to pay our carriers to keep it away, but that's how it goes.
If you have a Verizon phone, you can block numbers by logging in to your account on their website. You're allowed up to 5 numbers for free, but the blocks expire after 90 days, so you'll have to manually add them again.
To add free blocks for the first time, follow the below steps.
- Go to My Verizon
- Click on Manage Verizon Family Safeguards & Controls
- Scroll down and find Call & Message Blocking
- Click on Add Now
Note, that if you already have Call & Message Blocking added to your account, you will see at at the top. In this case, you'd select View Details & Edit instead of Add Now.
- Enter the 10-digit number you want to block (up to 5)
- Click Submit
A dialog box will pop up confirming that your changes are saved.
To permanently block up to 20 numbers, you'll have to subscribe to Verizon's Usage Controls feature for $5 per month, which is now a part of FamilyBase. They both do the same thing, only Usage Controls charges $4.99/month for each line, whereas FamilyBase is $5/month for up to 10 lines. You can learn more about the differences at Verizon's FamilyBase FAQ page.
To activate FamilyBase, you can click on Usage Controls directly from the Call & Message Blocking screen above, or head back to Manage Verizon Family Safeguards & Controls.
Here, you can also choose to block all restricted, unavailable, and private numbers.
To block numbers on an AT&T account, you have to add Smart Controls to your plan for $4.99 per month. This allows you to block up to 30 numbers. There is not free version of this like Verizon offers.
To subscribe, follow these simple steps.
- Open the I Want To drop-down menu
- Choose Change Services
- Scroll down and find Smart Solutions
- Check the box next to Smart Limits for Wireless Parental Controls
- Click Next
- Under Features Select Effective/Expiration Date, choose the date you want the service to start
- Hit Next
On the review page, make sure all the information is correct and click Submit, which will bring up a confirmation page. Alternatively, you can go to the Smart Controls information page and click Order Now on the right-hand side.
Once you've added Smart Controls to your plan, go to Smart Limits for Wireless on your account management page and choose Blocked Numbers. Enter the number you want to block and hit Submit.
If you have Sprint, you can block up to 50 numbers for free without adding any extra services to your account. After logging in...
- Go to My Preferences
- Find Limits and Permissions
- Choose Block Voice
There should be an option that says Block only the following phone numbers for inbound and outbound calls where you can enter numbers you want to block by clicking Add number. Numbers you've blocked will be archived for 90 days.
Unfortunately, T-Mobile does not currently offer the option to block calls and messages on individual lines.
If you don't want to go through your carrier to block a number, on your iPhone running iOS 7, as stated earlier, will allow you to block numbers directly on the device, but will not prevent them from hitting your voicemail. This feature is not available for iOS 6 or lower, but there are third-party apps and services that will allow you to do so from your device or computer.
If your iPhone isn't jailbroken, here are a few apps and services that let you manage and block calls from your device.
In the iOS App Store, there's an app named Call Bliss that mimics Apple's own Do Not Disturb feature, but with some significant improvements. The free version lets you create groups and lists for Allowed and Suppressed contacts.
The in-app upgrade ($4.99) gives you access to all the features, including a Suppress List Mode that works like a blacklist and the ability to block certain numbers based on your location (home, work, etc.).
TrapCall is a service that unmasks restricted numbers and lets you blacklist unwanted callers. The basic plan gives you those two features for $3.95 a month, or you can upgrade to more expensive plans for additional features like voicemail transcription and the ability to record incoming calls.
You can manage your account and blocked numbers right from your device using their iPhone app.
If your iPhone is jailbroken, there are some options available in the Cydia Store.
iBlacklist, not to be confused with the iBlacklist app in the iOS App Store, lets you block calls and texts from unwanted numbers for a one-time fee of $12. If you don't activate the app right away, you'll have a 10 day free trial, so you can test it out and see if you like it before committing.
If you upgrade your phone, you can transfer the license for free on iBlacklist's website.
Call Blocker is another Cydia tweak that lets you block specific numbers and also offers the option to block private or restricted numbers.
Deleting a blocked number is as easy as swiping and pressing the red button.
360MobileSafe offers call and SMS blocking along with several other privacy and security features. You can download it free over on the Big Boss Repo, but it's only compatible with iOS 4 and 5, so it won't work on iOS 6 and higher.
If you're being spammed or harassed by telemarketers, you can add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry. This tells marketers that you don't want to be bothered. Most of them will start to comply after your number's been on the list for 31 days, but if you still keep getting calls, you can report them by filing a complaint on the registry's website.
If you're getting spam text messages, if you have iOS 7, it's easier than ever to block them. If you have iOS 6 or lower, you'll have to report the spam texts to your carrier.
Know of a method, app or service for blocking calls on your iPhone that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.