What is “Spam Risk” and how do I block these phone calls?

Tips & tricks
4 mins
What are Spam Risk phone calls and how do I block them?

You get a phone call and see “Spam Risk” on screen. Who is “Spam Risk” and should you answer them?

The quick answer? It’s spam. If your Caller ID screen shows “Spam Risk” (or a similar label like “Scam Likely” or “Scam Risk”), it means that your mobile carrier has identified the incoming call as spam. Generally speaking, you can safely ignore these calls.

Why does “Spam Risk” appear?

Spam calls are more pervasive than ever, and not only are they annoying—they’re potentially dangerous. An estimated US$29.8 billion was lost to phone scams in 2021 alone, heeding that little “Spam Risk” label could literally save your money.

But how does your mobile carrier know what’s a spam call? Relying on machine learning, an algorithm studies a database of known phone numbers from fraudulent or deceptive sources against behavioral analytics (i.e., how many people received calls from a number, frequency of calls, etc.).

When you receive a call that matches a number on the database or one that exhibits similar behavior, the call will be marked as “Spam Risk.” You can generally trust these warnings, but as the process is automated, a call might be inaccurately tagged. If you are expecting a call from someone not on your contact list, check your call history to make sure that it wasn’t labeled as spam.

One way to avoid mislabeled spam? Add the number to your contact list.

Can I turn off “Spam Risk” calls?

If you’re getting too many calls labeled as “Spam Risk,” you probably are looking for a way to silence them. Here are some settings you can change on your iPhone or Android phone to block calls from unknown callers directly.

How to block “Spam Risk” calls on iPhone

On an iPhone, you can enable the “Silence Unknown Callers” feature to send all calls from numbers outside your contacts straight to voicemail, silencing these call notifications. They will still appear on your call history. The caveat, as the screenshot shows, is that all unknown calls will be silenced—spam or not. Here’s how.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone
  2. Tap on Phone
  3. Toggle Silence Unknown Callers on

Silence Unknown Callers Toggle

How to block “Spam Risk” calls on Android

On an Android phone, the “Caller ID and spam protection” feature is on by default. Take it a step further and block notifications from spam calls by enabling “Filter spam calls.” Here’s how.

  1. If it isn’t already, set the Phone by Google app as the default phone app
  2. From the app, access Settings from the three-dot icon in the search bar
  3. Next, tap Spam and Call Screen
  4. Scroll to See caller & spam ID and make sure it’s on
  5. Next, turn on Filter spam calls

If you wish to do your own filtering, Android phones have a feature called “Verified Calls.” This feature will show you information like who is calling and why they’re calling. Spam risk labels are not 100% accurate, and this will allow you to determine if a call is truly spam or not.

Here’s the difference between a regular call and a Verified Call screen.

Verified call screen vs Normal call screen on Android

You can enable “Verified Calls” by following these steps.

  1. If it isn’t already, set the Phone by Google app as the default phone app
  2. From the app, access Settings from the three-dot icon in the search bar
  3. Next, tap on Spam and Call Screen
  4. Scroll to Verified Calls and toggle it on
  5. Lastly, select Yes I’m In

How to block “Spam Risk” calls on a landline phone

If you’re in the U.S., a free and easy way to filter out telemarketers is by adding your number to the National Do Not Call Registry. This can be done via www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register.

You should receive fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering; however, this method does not filter out scammers or unscrupulous companies who ignore the registry.

Read more: 7 ways to stop spam calls and robocalls

What happens if I answer a “Spam Risk” call?

Much like how you would clear your spam email folder instead of opening spam emails (to avoid encouraging the senders), you should avoid answering calls marked “Spam Risk.” Answering a spam call causes more trouble than it’s worth, so hit that decline button when you see “Spam Risk” on your screen! Here are some risks of picking up scam calls:

  • You will be subjected to more spam calls. By answering and engaging with a spam call, your number may be marked as “live,” and you will receive more of these calls.
  • Your voice gets recorded for fraudulent activities. If you pick up a spam call, you may be tricked into saying “yes.” Avoid saying “yes,” as a recording of your confirmation could be used for fraudulent activities, such as phone banking.
  • You waste your time. It might be tempting to toy with the spammer, but you definitely have better use for your time. Plus, your number will be marked as “live,” subjecting you to more of these calls.

If you miss a call that looks like spam but want to call it back just to be sure—don’t. There is a scam to be aware of in which the caller might look like a local number or to at least appear to be in the same country, but it’s actually an overseas number that will charge you for the call.

FAQ: About “Spam Risk” calls

Why do I keep getting “Spam Risk” calls?
Are “Spam Risk” calls always spam?
How does my iPhone know “Spam Risk”?
How do spammers get my number?
What should you do if you accidentally answer a “Spam Risk” call?
How do I report “Spam Risk” calls?
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