We are very excited to offer an updated version of our spam blocking feature for our My Choice members. This feature is an improvement from our previous release announced here. Once you enable it, we prevent any spam calls we identify from ringing your phone. You will also still have the option to block calls directly from the Android dialer.
To get set up on the new spam feature follow the steps below.
Open the Republic Wireless app, tap on the gear in the right-hand corner, and tap “Call and Voicemail Settings”
Tap “Configure spam call blocking”.
Choose from “Block spam calls”, “Block spam calls & voicemails”, and “Allow all calls” (enabled by default)
That’s it! Continue reading to learn more about what we’re doing to address unwanted spam calls.
What is a spam call?
While spam is likely ‘in the eye of the beholder,’ I like to think of it in two buckets. The small bucket is telemarketers, callers with whom I’ve had some financial relationship in the past, (ex: alumni association from college, charities to which I’ve donated, businesses I’ve made purchases from, and even children’s schools). The big bucket is scammers, (robo-callers) with whom I have no previous relationship and their goal is to collect my personal information and/or steal my money (ex: fake IRS summons, health insurance offers, credit card offers).
How spam works and how you should respond
Generally, calls in the ‘telemarketer’ bucket come from humans. Occasionally, you might also get a pre-recorded message from a school principal or a doctor’s office which I’m including in the ‘telemarketer’ bucket. If you no longer want to receive these calls, please ask the caller to remove your number from their list and stop contacting you. The Do Not Call Registry is also a good option for opting out of these ‘telemarketer’ calls. There isn’t a separate registry for cell phones versus landlines so you can add your cell phone number to the main registry.
Calls that fall into the ‘scammer’ bucket are typically placed via software. Scammers use auto-dialers to cycle through thousands or even millions of numbers daily. Scammers also use software to ‘spoof’ the caller’s number, often utilizing a local area code and prefix, to increase the chance that you answer. Much like email spam, the cost of each additional call is negligible so spammers only need a few unsuspecting individuals to volunteer their personal information to cover costs. The safest way to avoid scammers is by not answering calls from unknown numbers and letting the call go to voicemail. If it’s a legitimate call, the caller will leave a voicemail. Often, if you answer one scam call, it’s blood in the water for a host of other scammers that will relentlessly call you.
How Republic is responding
We’ve been thinking about spam for years, but struggled to find an appropriate balance between blocking too much and not blocking enough. We want to stop unwanted calls, but we don’t want to block the important ones, such as a call from your daughter’s school that classes have been canceled due to snow.
We originally chose a solution where we analyzed our own call traffic across many different risk variables to calculate a spam score per phone number. We passed the highest-risk numbers to one of our partners who would validate if a number was likely spam or not to be extra sure that we weren’t blocking important calls. Then we would block any of the validated spam calls from ringing your phone or leaving a voicemail (depending on your settings in the Republic App).
Starting in Republic App 3.28.1, we are excited to share that our spam blocking is now much improved. We have changed spam providers and now rely on spam lists that are both larger and more efficient, meaning that you can expect a reduction in spam without worrying about missing an important call.
The best part is that you don’t have to do anything special to receive this enhancement. As long as you’re on Republic App 3.28.1 or higher and have this setting enabled, you’ll get better spam protection.
This approach won’t stop all spam. Based on modeling, it should block more than 50% of spam calls. After opting into this feature, we expect the level of spam for more than half of our members to drop to zero.
But if you still get many repeat calls from the same number, you can block it directly in the Android dialer. Simply open the dialer, long press on the call, and choose to block the number. Don’t worry, all of the numbers you previously added to your block list are still blocked and that list can be edited from the Dialer settings menu!
We are always looking for new ways to improve our service experience. This is only one of the many great benefits that our members get here at Republic Wireless. Not a member yet and interested in checking out our spam call blocking feature? Learn more about our service today and the innovative features we have to offer.