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Silence unknown callers – how to block unwanted calls on iOS

Here’s how an often overlooked feature of iOS could help you take control of spam callers on your iPhone.

Called Silence Unknown Callers, the feature does just that – it silences unfamiliar callers, automatically sending them to voicemail. Perfect for handling robocalls and the like. Without doubt, it’s a great iOS feature that’s easy to miss. So with that in mind, let’s take a closer look.

When enabled, Silence Unknown Callers checks whether an incoming call is from a number that’s in your address book. It also uses the power of Siri to scan through Messages and Mail, in case the number is hidden in a colleague’s email signature or has been texted to you by a friend. (If you’re worried about the privacy implications, know that Siri Intelligence features are handled on-device. Apple can’t read your emails.)

If an incoming number is completely unknown, the call is auto-declined and will go straight to voicemail where you can listen to it later or delete it. You’ll also see the missed call appear in the Recents tab in the Phone app.

It’s a smart, effective feature – but it’s not enabled by default.

The easiest way to turn it on is to open the Recents tab of the Phone app. Often, iOS will display a recommendation at the top of the view: Set Up Call Silencing. Simple as that!

If that button doesn’t appear for you, instead configure it manually. Launch Settings and tap Phone. Then, scroll down and enable Silence Unknown Callers.

The toggle will be available if you’re running iOS 13 or later, which most users are by now. The exception is those still using an iPhone 6 or earlier, which can’t upgrade beyond iOS 12.

If you’re worried about missing important calls, don’t fret. Silence Unknown Callers works by auto-declining calls, meaning callers will be able to leave a voicemail. That means you won’t be pestered by a ringtone, but you’ll still see the missed call in case it’s genuine.

You can check on your voicemail by launching the Phone app and tapping Voicemail – a red badge notification should appear on the Phone app icon if you have new voicemail. If you have visual voicemail configured, you’ll also be able to read a transcript of the message.

While Silence Unknown Callers is great, it’s also worth noting that if you’re waiting to receive an important call from an unknown number – like a hospital – it may be wise to disable the feature, at least temporarily. Fortunately, activating and deactivating Silence Unknown Callers is as simple as toggling a button.

So if you’re frequently plagued by cold callers, activate this feature and put a stop to the spammers once and for all!

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