2012.05 Article: Make Your Own Spam Filter Tool with Your iPhone

By Jeanne Gomoll

We've entered the horrible season of robocalls and polls. The many loopholes in the do-not-call (DNC) rules allow advertisers, pollsters, charities, and businesses to call you anytime. Anyone and any company with whom you have done business may call you even if you have placed your numbers on a state or federal DNC list. And of course all charities, political groups, and pollsters can call you, even if (or especially if) you make regular donations to their cause, even if you have begged them not to call you.

I may get more spam calls than most people. I own a home-based business and my phone number is on the web. Also, I've set up my phone system so that all phone calls made to my land-line phone are automatically forwarded to my iPhone. During the last election week, I received an average of 2 political calls every hour.

Since the DNC lists didn't seem to be helping, I decided to do something about it myself. Here's what I did:
  1. An unknown number shows up on my iPhone's screen. Since I run a business, the unknown caller could possibly be a potential client. I give the caller one chance and answer it. If it turns out to be a spam call, I end the call as quickly as possible, or simply hang up on robocalls. Then....
  2. I go to my iPhone's list of recent phone calls and click on the right-pointing arrow to the right of the telephone number I've identified as spam.
  3. On the new window that opens up, I scroll down and select "Create New Contact".
  4. I create a new contact which I call "Spam". (I have to do this only one time.)
  5. I give the new contact a unique ring tone. (I've chosen "Sonar" for mine. The sound of a deadly, invisible U-Boat seems appropriate.)
  6. Next time I get a call that I identify as spam, I do not create a new client. Instead, I tap on "Add to Existing Contact".
  7. Then I add the new telephone number to the "Spam" listing. How many phone numbers can you add? So far, it does not appear that Apple imposes a limit on the number of phone numbers a single Contact name can have. So far, I have entered 170+ telephone numbers to my "Spam" contact. I guess if I ever do run up against a limit, I will just create a new contact called "Spam2" with the same ring tone.

So, when my phone's sonar sounds off. I can hear it from several rooms away if I don't happen to have my iPhone close to me. And (joy!) I know that it's not necessary to run to get my phone and answer. This system works great, and it only takes a few seconds to add a new telephone to the spam listing. Once the system is in place, you need never answer a call from that number again. If they really need to tell you something, they can leave a message. I figure if it turns out I've mistakenly labeled a good guy as spam, I can always remove them from the spam contact list. But that hasn't happened yet.

Now I wish I could set up a spam filter tool to protect me from unwanted text messages! 

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