It's Election Year; Time to Block Political Calls
The political machines in the United States are cranking up, making phone calls by the tens of thousands. They want to get your opinions, they want to tell you how wonderful their candidates are – and they want to tell you how terrible their opponents would be. The bottom line? You can expect your phone to ring off the hook between now and election day. There's something to look forward to; months of calls ringing through at all hours – disturbing your already hectic schedule.
What's worse, even if your number is registered on the national Do Not Call Registry, some organizations such as charities, political organizations, and telephone surveyors can still legally call you.
Politicians don't have time to meet with most voters, and sending out millions of mailers isn't cost effective. New VoIP technology lets them make calls almost free, and they've already begun to unleash a barrage of calls on the unwary public.
What to Do? Here Are Some Call Blocking Basics
Good news! There is relief in sight for both landlines and smartphones – if you're willing to seek out solutions. For example, there are many call blocking apps capable of blacklisting bothersome callers; some will also let you block unwanted SMS and MMS messages as well.
The ideal blacklist will simply disconnect the caller when they try to ring through to your phone. Your phone won't ring, and the caller won't get a chance to leave a voice message. Those callers will think your number has been disconnected.
Numbers which are not on the blacklist will ring through to your phone, or to your voicemail if you are not available.
Taking Call Blocking to the Next Level
Simply blocking calls from bothersome numbers you've blacklisted isn't enough. Calls from political organizations can come from anywhere in the country. It isn't possible to blacklist hundreds of phone numbers from a single call center , let alone capture all the numbers from a whole network of call centers and blacklist them all.
Some apps will allow you to create a whitelist. Choose your principal contacts on the whitelist. If your phone will ring, callers on this list can always get through to your phone or to your voice mail if you aren't available.
Handling Other Callers – Those not Whitelisted or Blacklisted
Your ideal app will include both a blacklist and a whitelist. Callers on the first list will be blocked entirely, and think your phone has been disconnected, while callers on the second list will be welcomed by your sophisticated phone system. But what about those callers which aren't on either list? Your digital gatekeeper can send those callers to voicemail – without ringing your phone and disturbing your day. Just return the call at your convenience. Unwanted callers should not be able to add stress to your day.
Other Call Blocking Features
Many call blocking apps will allow you to block anonymous phone callers, those with private numbers, or those that have spoofed their phone number with letters instead of letters. Some apps will let you block area wide phone numbers by using wild card characters in the blacklist. For example, adding 202* to your blacklist blocks all callers in the 202 area code, while 202455* will block only those callers having a 455 prefix within the 202 area code.
You can always hang out a “Do Not Disturb” sign, regardless of the phone system you're using. Just turn off the ringer, or unplug the phone line. There are times when these are the preferred way to deal with the phone. For example, you may want to take a break from the phone while you work on your tax return!
My Call Blocking Apps of Choice
I've found an app for my Android phone called Calls Blacklist – I even sprung for the extra $0.99 for the Pro version! It doesn't handle 100% of the options listed above, but it comes close. Those who use a different phone (iPhone, Windows phone, Blackberry, etc) will need to find an app that suits their situation.
My call blocking solution for my home phone won't work for everyone either. I'm using a magicJack, and I keep it plugged into a small computer called a thinclient. The thinclient only uses about 20 watts, and runs all day, every day. Keeping our magicJack plugged into the computer lets me use MagicFeatures – a plugin that provides call blocking as well as a host of other features (easy access to call forwarding, enabling or disabling call waiting, speed dial numbers, 7 digit local calling, etc). Unfortunately, MagicFeatures only works with Windows XP and Windows 7 at the time of this writing, so Windows 10 and Mac users are out of luck.
If you're using Vonage, VOIPo, NetTalk or some other VoIP (phone over the internet) provider for your landline, your solution will be different than mine. Even AT & T offers a rudimentary call blocking feature – although it's unlikely to be able to keep up with the onslaught of calls in the upcoming months leading up to election day.
Good luck controlling your phone's ringer!