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How To Screen Calls on Your iPhone (6 Methods)

There are multiple tools you can use to successfully screen calls on an iPhone, from iOS17’s new Live Voicemail feature to AI-powered third-party tools.

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      How Do You Screen Spam Calls on Your iPhone?

      American iPhone users are facing an onslaught of spam and scam calls — and it’s costing them time and money. According to the latest statistics [*]:

      Americans wasted 195 million hours on answering spam calls in 2023 alone.

      But it’s not just the risk of wasted time that makes phone spam so dangerous. Scammers also managed to steal nearly $640 million from victims of phone scams last year [*].

      Screening calls on your iPhone is one of the best ways to protect yourself from spam, scams, and unwanted calls. In this guide, we’ll show you how to use your iPhone’s built-in features, as well as third-party apps and tools, to keep your phone safe from spam. 

      {{show-toc}} 

      What Is Call Screening? Why Is It So Important? 

      Call screening lets you use tools or techniques to filter incoming calls before answering them to ensure that you’re not wasting time on unwanted calls or phone scammers.

      Unfortunately, successfully screening your calls is easier said than done. 

      Scammers and spammers have more ways than ever to not only access your phone number, but also trick you into answering (such as by spoofing your caller ID or using restricted numbers). Once on the line, fraudsters can con you with their scams, threaten you, or even manipulate you into sending them money or disclosing sensitive information. 

      Here are just a few of the ways that screening your calls protects you and your family:

      • Ensures you don’t miss important phone calls from unknown numbers. Many people outright block or ignore unknown numbers, but that can cause you to miss important calls from your health care providers, friends, or other contacts who block their numbers. Modern call screening tools allow you to see the caller's name and what the person wants before you answer, so you won’t miss an important call. 
      • Helps you to avoid falling victim to a phone scam. Phone scams have become so sophisticated that you're only safe if you never engage with them. Call screening services can flag and block scam calls before they ever get to you. 
      • Prevents you from wasting time dealing with phone spam. Even if you can identify a scam caller, it still takes time to do this. Call screening tools do the dirty work for you, only letting worthwhile calls get through.
      • Stops scammers from confirming that your phone number is active. By answering the phone and engaging with a scam caller, you've confirmed that your number works and you will answer the phone when it rings. This might encourage scammers to target you again in the future. 

      The bottom line: Your phone can be an easy point of access for both scammers and spammers. Aura’s AI-powered tools can ensure that only legitimate callers get through. Get 24/7 protection against spam and scams. Try Aura for free today → 

      6 Ways To Screen Calls on iPhones

      1. Enable Live Voicemail (iOS 17) 
      2. Use Aura’s AI-powered spam call blocker
      3. Screen calls by using Google Voice
      4. Turn on the “Silence unknown callers” feature
      5. Try a third-party call screening app 
      6. Contact your carrier to ask about call screening options

      Many people use nothing more than Caller ID to screen calls. While this might help you avoid certain unknown and telemarketing callers, it's largely ineffective — as scammers can spoof phone numbers to trick you and limit the usefulness of your caller ID.

      You actually have several better call blocking and call filtering options for incoming calls on an iPhone, including built-in tools and third-party apps and services. 

      Here are some of the best ways to screen calls on your iPhone:

      1. Enable Live Voicemail (iOS 17)

      Apple's Live Voicemail feature on iOS 17 sends you a real-time transcription of a voicemail as it's being left on your lock screen [*]. When a call comes in, you can send it to your voicemail to find out who’s calling and what they want before you answer. 

      If it’s one of your contacts, you’ll see a full-screen display of the caller’s name and photograph, along with the transcription and an option to accept the call or send back a message.

      Here are a few pros and cons of screening calls by using Live Voicemail:

      iOS Live Voicemail pros
      iOS Live Voicemail cons
      Built into your iPhone’s operating system — no additional app required.
      Requires the latest version of iOS, which may slow down or not work properly with older devices.
      Shows voicemail transcriptions almost in real time.
      Transcriptions aren’t always accurate, which means you could miss important information.
      You can see messages without having to log in to voicemail.
      Scammers can get your attention with fraudulent “urgent” messages.

      How to enable Live Voicemail on your iPhone:

      • Make sure you’re using iOS 17 by opening your Settings and clicking on General and then About. If you need to update your operating system from iOS 16 or earlier versions, click on Software Update.
      • To enable Live Voicemail, open your Settings and then click on Phone and then Live Voicemail. Make sure it’s set to On.

      💡 Related: How To Stop Unwanted Texts on an iPhone

      2. Use Aura’s AI-powered spam call blocker

      While Apple’s Live Voicemail requires you to send callers to your voicemail, Aura answers calls for you by using artificial intelligence (AI). 

      When an unknown caller tries to reach you, your phone uses call forwarding to automatically transfer the caller to Aura’s Call Assistant which then requests the caller’s name and purpose so that you can review this information before legitimate callers are routed back to you.

      Aura also checks all incoming calls and texts against the most up-to-date spam and scam phone number lists, and blocks texts containing suspicious links and common scam language.

      Here are a few of Aura's AI spam blocker’s pros and cons:

      Aura's spam blocker pros
      Aura's spam blocker cons
      Part of a comprehensive, all-in-one package that includes other ID theft and security features.
      Requires an Aura subscription plan, which has higher pricing than some basic call blocking services.
      Managed through the Aura app — no additional downloads required.
      Only available to U.S.-based iPhone users.
      Also scans text messages, and places scam messages in your junk folder.
      Highly sophisticated scam attempts may still get through.

      How to enable Aura's spam blocker on your iPhone:

      • Sign up for Aura, starting at $6/month by using this special link. You’ll also get access to Aura’s award-winning identity theft and fraud protection, AI-powered digital security tools, 24/7 U.S.-based support, and up to $5 million in identity theft insurance. 
      • Add call protection to existing individual or couple plans. Log in to your online account, and click on Call Protection or call 1-844-939-3681 for help. All family plans automatically come with call protection included. 
      🏆 Shut down spam and scam calls with Aura’s AI-powered Call Assistant. Aura’s award-winning digital security solution uses artificial intelligence (AI) to block scam calls, warn you of phishing attacks, and protect your identity and finances. Try Aura free for 14 days.

      3. Screen calls by using Google Voice

      Google Voice has a call screening feature that allows you to hear an unknown caller's name before accepting the call. If the caller's number is on your contacts list or known to Google, the name will be automatically read aloud.

      Here are a few pros and cons about Google Voice:

      Google Voice pros
      Google Voice cons
      The service is free and easy to set up and use on iOS, iPad OS, and Mac OS devices.
      Only screens calls to your Google Voice number, not standard iPhone calls.
      Google Voice transcribes your voicemails for better management.
      Requires a Google account and a solid internet/Wi-Fi connection to work.
      Adds a layer of protection for your main phone number.
      Google Voice lacks dedicated support.

      How to enable Google Voice on your iPhone:

      • Download the Google Voice app from the App Store. 
      • To enable call screening, click on Calls in the Google Voice app, and turn on Screen Calls. 

      4. Turn on the “Silence unknown callers” feature

      Beginning with iOS 13, Apple has allowed users to silence calls from unknown callers. Unless a caller’s number can be found in your contacts or recent calls and text messages (or if Siri has pulled a suggested ID from your emails), these calls will go directly to voicemail. 

      iPhone settings screen with option to Silence Unknown Callers turned on
      Silencing Unknown Callers can help you avoid spam calls — but may cause you to miss important callers as well.

      Here are a few pros and cons about using the silence unknown callers feature:

      Silence unknown callers pros
      Silence unknown callers cons
      This built-in feature is free on all iPhones with iOS 13 or higher.
      You might miss legitimate calls from unknown numbers.
      Silences all unknown calls, including Facetime calls.
      This specific feature lacks dedicated support.
      Allows you to manage which calls get silenced by adding them to your contacts list.
      May be bypassed by spoofed numbers.

      How to silence unknown callers on your iPhone:

      • To silence unknown callers, open your Settings and click on Phone. Then click on Silence Unknown Callers and enable the feature.  

      💡 Related: How To Block (And Uncover) Unknown Callers

      5. Try a third-party call screening app

      Third-party call screening apps use various technologies to block scam calls — including scam call databases and blacklists, answer bots, and scam algorithms. Depending on the app, these services may also flag suspicious calls, filter text messages, and transcribe voicemails.

      Here are a few pros and cons about third-party call screening apps:

      Call screening apps pros
      Call screening apps cons
      Many come with advanced features and functionality.
      Requires multiple apps to manage and trust with your information.
      May offer integration with other services and apps.
      Premium services come at a price.
      May feature real-time alerts and updates, along with detailed tracking information.
      Requires browsing through the many options in order to find one that works.

      How to enable Google Voice on your iPhone:

      • Download a call screening app from the App Store that works with your current iOS version. 
      • Enable the app by opening up your Settings and clicking on Phone. Then click on Call Blocking & Identification and turn on the app.

      6. Contact your carrier to ask about call screening options

      Many phone carriers offer call screening services, including blocking or scamming known scam numbers and scam likely calls. These services often require callers to perform an action to bypass the screening process — such as pressing a number on the keypad or stating their name, which weeds out robocallers. 

      Here are a few pros and cons about carrier call screening:

      Carrier call screening pros
      Carrier call screening cons
      Provided by your phone carrier as an app that works directly with your phone.
      Depends on your phone carrier and may not provide sufficient protection.
      May be offered as a free service from your carrier.
      Unlikely to have customization or filter controls.
      Can block calls from the network level, which may prove more accurate.
      Some of the best services require an additional subscription cost.

      How to enable carrier call screening on your iPhone:

      • Add Verizon call screening from your home screen by clicking on Phone and Call Blocking & Identification. Make sure Call Filter is turned on. 
      • Add T-Mobile call screening by downloading the Scam Shield app. 
      • Add AT&T call screening by logging in to your online account. Click on My digital phone and then Check or manage voicemail & features. Click on Phone Features and turn on Call Screening.
      • You can also call your phone carrier and ask what call screening features they have available and how to activate them. 
      🥇 Don’t settle for second-best spam and scam protection. Aura combines AI-powered spam call protection with award-winning identity, credit, and online protection to keep you and your family safe. Try Aura free for 14 days.

      Did You Answer a Spam or Scam Call? Do This!

      If you answered a spam call — or worse, gave up information or money — you should act quickly to protect your accounts and finances. 

      Follow these steps to stop scammers from wreaking havoc on your identity and finances:

      • Secure your accounts. To ensure that scammers can't take over your online accounts, log in and change your passwords. Use unique and complex passwords for each account, and add multi-factor authentication (MFA) when available. A password manager can help you keep track of these logins, so you don’t have to worry about remembering them all.  
      • Freeze your credit file. Freezing your credit will lock everyone out of your credit file, including lenders and scammers. To initiate a freeze, you need to call each of the three major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — individually. 
      • Contact your bank. Reach out to your bank and inform them of the situation. They may flag your account and send out notifications if they see suspicious activity. If you spot unauthorized transactions, the bank may be able to reverse the charges. 
      • Block the spam number. You can block spam calls in several ways. Most smartphones, including Android and iPhones, have a Block feature for individual callers. On your iPhone, tap on More info on the scam number, and tap Block this caller. You can also use third-party phone apps to block known scam numbers. 
      • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Visit IdentityTheft.gov and file an identity theft report. The information you provide will assist authorities in their investigation, and you'll get a recovery plan to help you deal with the fallout from identity theft. 
      • Reduce your digital footprint. You can reduce your online vulnerabilities by cleaning up your online presence. Do this by deleting unused accounts, tightening your privacy settings, and removing any personal information from your social media profiles.
      • Opt out of data broker lists. Data brokers collect and sell your information, giving scammers easy access to your personal details. You can opt out of these sites manually, or sign up for Aura and get access to automatic data broker opt-outs.
      • Inform people around you. When scammers have access to your information, they might target your friends and family next. By informing your loved ones of this possibility, you decrease the chances of them falling for a scam. 
      • Consider changing your phone number. While you can limit the damage that fraudsters can do, you can never take back your phone number from scammers. If you find yourself being targeted constantly by scams, you may want to get a new number and keep it private. 

      The Bottom Line: Phone Scams Cost Americans Millions — Aura Can Help

      Phone scams are more than a nuisance; they're a threat to your identity, your money, and your family. The best way to shield yourself from these threats is to screen your calls. 

      While you have many options to help you screen your calls, Aura does more to keep you safe. 

      With Aura, you get an advanced, AI-powered spam call and text blocker along with a full suite of digital security tools, award-winning identity theft and fraud protection, 24/7 U.S.-based support, and up to $5 million in identity theft insurance. 

      Use AI to fight back against scammers. Try Aura free for 14 days.

      Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you to increase awareness about digital safety. Aura’s services may not provide the exact features we write about, nor may cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat discussed in our articles. Please review our Terms during enrollment or setup for more information. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime.

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