The latest update to the Google phone dialer app on Android now includes built-in spam protection. Here’s how to download it and block spam callers and telemarketers.
History of Telemarketing
Telemarketing is a method of direct marketing. A salesperson at a company calls people and tries to sell them products and/or services. This is done over the phone or even in a face-to-face conferencing call. Additionally, these companies also use pre-recorded messages, popularly called “robo calls.”
The 1950s is when telemarketing took off, with switchboard operators. The rise of advertising saw increased hiring of female operators. This made the telephone more popular and created new jobs. Eventually, the country switched from a public switched telephone network [PDF] to a computer-based electronic switching system.
The telemarketing industry grew with the technology industry, and complaints against telemarketing calls rose. Finally, in 1991 the Telephone Consumer Protection Act [PDF] enacted by the FCC gave rules that telemarketers had to follow:
- Do not call residences before 8 AM or after 9 PM
- Maintain an internal Do Not Call list
- Provide their name and the name of the company on whose behalf they are calling
- Do not use artificial voices or pre-recorded messages
- Do not send unsolicited ads by fax
In 2003 the FTC set the Do Not Call registry on a national level. Registering your number on this list made it more difficult for telemarketers to call you. In 2007 the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act [PDF]made it possible for numbers to remain on the list without expiring.
The app we are talking about is Android’s stock phone dialer. You mostly likely already have it. If not, check out the APK below. Apps for blocking spam calls is not new, but now Google is baking this feature directly into Android. Users of Nexus and Android One devices can benefit. Also, people flashing stock ROM on certain devices also get it.
So how does it work?
As long as you turn on caller ID within the app, you will get the feature. Spam protection then turns on by default. This makes it easy and seamless for Android users. To check if an incoming call is spam or not, Google uses local business listing. The company matches the number through directories that show caller information. Right now, it is unclear whether Google has a dedicated spam database.
Users can also mark any phone number as spam. This sends the number to Google and permanently blocks it from your phone. With the number in the database, other users getting this call see a “Suspected Spam Caller” alert. People can choose to answer the call or block it.
If the phone mistakenly marks a call as spam you can report the mistake within the app. Then, future calls from that number will appear normally.