It's Election Year (again); 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. They want your donation, they want you to volunteer. Of course, they also want your vote. 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. Politicians don't have time to meet with most voters, and sending out millions of mailers isn't cost effective. New phone technology lets them make calls almost free, and they've taken to unleashing a barrage of calls on the unwary public. What's worse, as soon as this election has passed the political machines will begin operations for the next election.
Even if your number is registered on the national Do Not Call Registry, political organizations can still legally call you. You can complain to the government about the unending stream of political calls you're getting, but it won't do any good. The politicians have made calling to spread their propaganda legal. Wonderful.
Wouldn't you love to have a call blocker, a gizmo to make it all go away?
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.
Your ideal blacklist may simply disconnect the caller when they try to ring through to your phone. Your phone won't ring, and the caller won't even get a chance to leave a voice message. Those callers will think your number has been disconnected. Alternately, blacklisted numbers may be sent directly to your voicemail, and you can delete them or respond to them at your convenience.
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! 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 allow you to create a whitelist. Put all your friends and family on that whitelist. You can then allow only calls from numbers on your whitelist to ring through to your phone. You can give other callers the option to leave a voice mail when they can't ring through. Once you've heard their voice mail, you can decide whether to delete the message or act on it. You can also decide whether you want to put their number on your white list – so their calls will to ring through immediately in the future.
Handling Other Callers – Those not White-listed or Black-listed
Your ideal call blocking 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 or unexpected callers should not add stress to your day.
Other Call Blocking Features
Many call blocking apps will allow you to block callers with anonymous or private numbers. Some will let you block callers that have spoofed their phone number with letters instead of letters. Some apps will let you block whole area codes or parts of an area code by using wild card characters in the blacklist. For example, adding 202* to your blacklist would block all callers in the 202 area code, while 202455* would block only those callers having a 455 prefix within the 202 area code. Setting up the call blocker is quick and easy. Here's a quick walk though, showing how to add specific numbers and how to use wild characters.
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). MagicFeatures works with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. Unfortunately, it doesn't support Mac users at the time of this writing (March, 2018).
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!
Questions or Comments?
Do you have any comments or questions regarding the use of a call blocker with your phone? Drop a note in the comment box below and put it out there for all to see! You may find the answer you're looking for – or perhaps you'll hear from someone who's given the call blocker a try!