How to configure your Pixel phone to automatically decline robocalls

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2023-05-31 14:30:00

Person using the Google Pixel 7a.

June Wan/ZDNET

Spam isn’t just for inboxes. Over the years we’ve seen a constant rise in the amount of spam phone calls that range from trying to sell you better insurance, political missives, and even the occasional threat. 

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Thankfully, the Pixel line of phones has some pretty handy tools built right into the phone app to help you banish those spam calls. These built-in configuration options work in conjunction with Google’s spam database (which is frequently updated) to keep those calls from inundating your phone. Since configuring my Pixel to handle these calls, the number has been reduced dramatically.

Of course, you can’t just expect Google to take care of everything. You need to make a couple of configuration changes within the phone app to get the most out of the service. That’s what I’m going to help you with. Once you’ve taken care of this, your spam calls should be considerably reduced.

Also: How to record a phone call on your Android phone

Will it put a complete end to them? No. But the more you use it, the fewer spam calls you’ll receive.

How to configure Pixel to handle incoming spam calls

What you’ll need: The only thing you’ll need to reduce spam is a Pixel phone running at least Android 10 (which should cover most Android devices currently on the market). Some non-Pixel phones do offer help with spam calls but the effectiveness isn’t quite nearly what you’ll find in the Pixel devices. If you’re using a non-Pixel phone, I would suggest you check through the Phone app settings to see what level of spam protection the device offers.

Open the Phone app on your Pixel device and tap the vertical three-dot menu in the upper right corner. From the pop-up menu, tap Settings.

From the Phone Settings window, navigate to the spam pop-up settings window by tapping Spam and Call Screen > Call Screen > Spam

From within the Spam pop-up, select the option called “Automatically screen. Decline robocalls.”

The Spam configuration popup in Android 13.

Enabling automatic screening of possible spam calls.

Image: Jack Wallen

Next, we want to set up automatic declining of robocalls. For this, go back to the Spam and Call Screen settings page, select Call Screen, and then tap Possibly faked numbers. In the resulting pop-up, again make sure to enable the option for “Automatically screen. Decline robocalls.”

The faked numbers autoscreening configuration popup on Android 13.

Enabling the automatic screening of possibly faked numbers.

Image: Jack Wallen

When a suspected spam call comes in, it will automatically be screened for you with these two options enabled, so you won’t have to do anything about them. As a bonus, on the Call Screen options page, if you choose, you can also select First-time callers and choose the same automatic screening option that you did for spam and robocalls. 

Also: 5 quick tips for better Android phone security now

Since I’ve enabled these settings (which I did probably two years ago), I’ve seen spam calls reduced to almost zero. I highly recommend that you do the same, so you can enjoy far fewer unnecessary interruptions throughout your busy day.

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