How to Stop Robocalls for Good

For many years, junk and robocalls were relatively few and far between for most people. The National Do Not Call Registry worked well for a while. Legitimate companies were generally very compliant, and the violations were rare.

But over the last few years, the number of junk calls started climbing. Nearly 46 billion robocalls went out in 2020 in the US alone.

Thankfully, the FCC in the United States has issued a mandate for all voice service providers to have the robocall-fighting “STIR/SHAKEN” technology in place by no later than June 30, 2021, according to a news release. More about that later.

All the major US carriers offer some kind of basic free protection, along with paid upgrades. Here’s a summary of what’s available.

AT&T – Call Protect

AT&T recently expanded the scope of Call Protect to include automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam-call alerts.

According to a recent news release, all new AT&T mobility customers will automatically get the expanded anti-robocall capabilities when they activate a voice line. Existing customers will find the new features up and running shortly.

As an “analytics-based blocking program,” Call Protect allows the company to determine whether an incoming call is legitimate or part of a scam or other robocall scheme.

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T-Mobile (and Deutsche Telekom) – Scam Shield

T-Mobile has a relatively new initiative called Scam Shield to protect customers from unwanted robocalls. Among its features:

  • Free scam ID and blocking will flag suspicious calls and let you block them.
  • Free enhanced caller ID will show verification if it’s a real person or business.
  • A free second number is available so you can keep your personal number personal.
  • You can get a free number change if scammers do become problematic.

Scam Shield is available for T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile and Sprint customers.

While Scam Shield is free, an upgraded service called Scam Shield Premium is available for $4/month (free for customers with Magenta Plus).

Scam Shield Premium will let you send telemarketing calls to voicemail, set up “always block” lists and get voicemail-to-text services.

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Verizon – Call Filter

Verizon offers both free and paid options. On the free side, the Call Filter service helps to identify and block robocalls. Verizon customers get alerts when a spam call is suspected and they can report unsolicited numbers. In addition, the service will automatically block robocalls based on your preferred level of risk.

A paid upgrade, called Call Filter Plus, is $2.99/month for one line or $7.99/month for three or more lines. In addition to just spam detection, blocking and reporting, the paid version lets you create a personal robocall block list and gives you access to a robocall risk meter and spam number lookup feature, among other things.

You can learn more about both the free and paid options here.

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O2 & Vodafone

You can register your number on the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). This is a free service and should reduce calls from companies, unless you have requested them to call or text you. This is the only service of this type.

Register your mobile number for free by texting TPS and your email address to 85095.
You should get less unsolicited calls after a few days, although it can take up to 28 days to be fully effective.

Free Third-Party Apps: Hiya, Nomorobo, and YouMail

hiya
YouMail
nomorobo

If you don’t want to pay for a service, you can limit robocalls on your smartphone for free with YouMail or Hiya.

Hiya uses an algorithm that determines if there is a phone number making thousands of brief phone calls. Additionally, app users can report fraudulent phone numbers.

YouMail uses a robust Robocall Index to identify “bad” numbers and block them from your phone. Other free features include accurate caller ID and custom voicemail greetings.

Nomorobo is a free service for voice over Internet protocol (VoiP) landlines that boasts of having stopped nearly 1 billion robocalls. There are also mobile versions for iOS and Android, but they cost $1.99/month.

(geek section) SHAKEN and STIR-red (US only)

The FCC in the United States has issued a mandate for all voice service providers to have the robocall-fighting “STIR/SHAKEN” technology in place by no later than June 30, 2021. How does this robocall-blocking technology work? Two technologies, in particular, will be at play going forward:

  • Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs (SHAKEN)
  • Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR)

They’re dual tech efforts that aim to verify a given call originates from the number that it says it does. The key is the use of “token technology” creating a digital signature as a stamp of approval when a call originates.

Unfortunately, the two technologies won’t out-and-out block robocalls when used together. What they will do is show some mark of verification on your phone to indicate that a call is legitimately coming from the number you see displayed.

It’s all too much – I need some help!

That’s what we’re here for – to help. Contact Us and we can help you get set up!

Article excerpted from Clark.com.

7 Tips to Keep Your iPhone Safe

Safe iPhone

As a technical support specialist, I am sharing my top tips to keep your iPhone and your personal information safe.

1. Set Up a Secure Passcode

If your iPhone is lost or stolen, it’s important to make sure it’s locked so only you can easily access your information. iPhones have options to set up a unique 4- or 6-digit passcode that you enter before you can use your phone. You can also set up your iPhone so you can unlock it with your fingerprint, or with Apple’s latest high-end phones, just by showing your full face.

2. Buy a Protective Case

Smartphones can be expensive. If you drop your phone, it could cost hundreds of dollars to fix or even more if you have to replace it. A case for your phone can protect your device and help prevent damage. But make sure you comparison-shop to find a great deal on a case. Try shopping on Amazon to find an affordable option, and read reviews to make sure you’re getting a quality case at a good price.

3. Turn On the “Find My iPhone” Option

Using Find My iPhone will allow you to find your phone if it is ever lost or stolen. You can also enable a feature to erase your phone remotely or have it automatically erased after a number of failed login attempts. Additionally, you can instruct it to play a very loud sound on your iPhone so that you can locate it nearby.

4. Choose Apps Carefully

Not all apps are legitimate and many request access to personal data. Always get your apps directly from the App Store. Research each app, check reviews and read the privacy policy before deciding if you should install it.

5. Keep Your Phone Up-to-Date

Apple releases system updates and other security updates often to keep you safe. Be sure to install these when they become available. You can check what’s current for your iPhone under Settings:About:Software Update.

6. Watch Out for Phishing Email and Text Messages

Do not respond to email or text messages that request personal information or that you don’t recognize. Think about the types of data on your phone: passwords, financial information, health information and other personal information. Once a hacker gains access to your device they can steal all of that data. There’s a full article about that here.

7. Backup Your Phone on a Regular Basis

Phones can crash just like computers, and if you don’t have a backup, you may lose any information that you’ve saved locally on your device. You can use iCloud, or back up your iPhone’s information to your computer. Apple wrote a dandy article all about that.

Help Mr. Wizard?

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Why You Should Update Your Medical ID in Health

MedicalID-Emergency SOS

It’s been seven years since Apple introduced the Medical ID on your iPhone, and if you still haven’t set it up, here’s how you do it — and why you should.

The Health app on your iPhone was introduced in 2014. It is where you can enter your Medical ID details — and that’s the kind of information that can help you in emergencies. For instance – if you are in a car crash and are unconscious, the EMT’s can easily read your Health details. Not only can they know of things like medicine allergies, blood type, height and weight, but they can also call your emergency contacts, and that call will show up on their phone as you, since it is coming from your phone. All of this without having to know your passcode to unlock the phone while you’re unconscious.

A few moments of work now can potentially save your life later.

How to add your Medical ID information

  1. Open the Health app and tap on the Browse button at bottom right
  2. Tap on your profile picture at top right
  3. Choose Medical ID
  4. Choose Edit
  5. Most importantly, make sure Show When Locked is turned On

It’s up to you what medical information you add, but some of it will be already filled in. Your name and birth date will have been gathered from when you first created your Apple ID, however many years ago that might be.

Medical ID Summary

And then your current age will be automatically calculated and displayed, too.

Until you press the Edit button, the screen only shows you what information you have entered. This is what first responders will see when they access your Medical ID.

Once you’ve tapped on Edit, the page expands to include all possible categories that Apple’s Health app tracks. Some of that is very general, such as:

  • Medical Conditions
  • Medical Notes
  • Allergies & Reactions
  • Medications

Each of these is a free-text field in which you can enter anything. Do take the time to check the spelling of medications and conditions. Most of the rest of the options are more specific:

  • Blood type
  • Whether you’re an organ donor
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Primary language 

Add emergency contacts to your Medical ID

Tap on Add emergency contacts and your iPhone will present your Contacts list to you. Choose whose name you want shown as your emergency contact, and then you are shown their complete contact details.

Choose which is the best way to reach them, most typically their cell number. 

Then iOS asks you who they are and presents a long list of options including spouse, mother, father, and so on. You can add more than one contact.

When you’re finished choosing them, tap Done.

What happens next

Hopefully the only thing that ever happens is that the figure you entered for your weight gets progressively less accurate. However, should you be involved in an accident, or any event that incapacitates you, the emergency services can now get this vital detail.

To do this, they have to press and hold on both the sleep/wake button and either of the volume buttons. This is how you make an emergency call, but it also shows responders a Medical ID button.

When they tap that, they get a screen showing all the medical details you’ve chosen to list.

Seems too complicated?

That’s why we’re here – to help you. Contact Us and we can get you taken care of!

(This article is extracted from appleinsider.com)

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