Because our cell phone typically accompanies us everywhere, unwanted calls to them take on a particularly annoying and sometimes frightening tone. Errant telemarketing calls or spam in the form of text messages can interrupt at inopportune times and can carry a charge to the receiver either in the form of minutes or cash. On the other hand, harassing calls can be not only inconvenient but threatening as well. Questions regarding how to reduce or eliminate unwanted calls to a cell phone are one of the most frequent topics presented to customer support forums in the cellular industry.

Certainly there are steps that all cell phone owners can take to combat the intrusion and expense of unwanted calls and text messages as well as additional safeguards that are specific to individual cell phone models. Becoming familiar with the protective features offered via the cellular provider is easy via their website in most cases. Reviewing the manual for a specific cell phone will also inform customers of any functions that may allow them to bar calls and messages or limit their intrusion.

A few of the common precautions and suggestions include:

Protect cell phone numbers from spam. Avoid giving out cell phone numbers but when it is necessary become aware of the privacy policy of the businesses to which such information is provided. Clearly it is best to avoid providing a cell phone number to a business that would possibly sell the information to potential spammers.

Be aware when ordering or signing up for newsletters, downloads, and so forth that users may be agreeing to receive calls or messages from the company in the future; thus, be sure to uncheck any boxes indicating agreement to receive these intrusions if they are not wanted.

Another important measure to avoid spam is to get on the “Do Not Call” list; register cell phone numbers at

If a user is receiving excessive spam, they should contact their cellular provider to see how the company can assist. If the sender of unwanted text messages is known, in some instances they can be added to a “block list” for the user which is managed through the cellular providers’ website. The cellular company should also reverse any charges for spam received.

Many cell phones, particularly smartphones, allow users to block “private” or unknown callers which would encompass most spammers. Check the manual for instructions on how to program this feature. Another option is to program the phone to have all “private” or unknown callers assigned a silent ringtone that will not disturb the user, and thus the call will roll to voicemail from where it can later be deleted. Other cell phones allow users to program it to send all incoming calls to voicemail unless the caller is on their contact list. This final option can also be very useful if the user is receiving harassing phone calls.

Various cell phones have filtering capabilities; users simply need to become acquainted with the options available for their phone. For instance, some can block international calls, or calls when roaming, to avoid excessive charges. Some smartphones allow users to block specific numbers which is particularly effective when receiving harassing phone calls.

When steps have been taken to eliminate spam received on a cell phone but it persists, it is wise to contact the FCC. Although they cannot deal with individual consumer complaints, they can act to issue citations to violators of the “Do Not Call” list and other related legislation. In extreme cases, it is possible of course to disable the text message function altogether via the cellular provider.

If harassing calls to a cell phone continue, both the police and the cellular provider should be contacted. Reports should be filed and information regarding the date, time, and content of the calls need to be kept. In extreme cases, changing the cell phone number is advisable.

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The author, Christine Peppler invites readers to visit for simple, useful information and shopping for cell phone plans.

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