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Quickly block spam calls with Castle, the anti-robocall app

Spam calls are the worst.

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We’ve all gotten robocalls — those annoying times when you pick up the phone, sometimes hearing a short pause after answering, and then getting subjected to a recorded voice on the other end of the line. Often, these calls come from political candidates. Sometimes, they are more sinister, like the ones that appear to be coming from tax collectors affiliated with the IRS.

In the latter case, a recipient of these calls gets warned about initiating a money transfer to pay money they supposedly owe due to unpaid taxes. However, the Federal Trade Commission published a warning to remind people the IRS only contacts people by mail, so victims should never fall for these scam calls.

Reports from frustrated individuals mention they typically receive multiple calls per day and would do almost anything to minimize them. A new Android app called Castle could provide the assistance they need to get relief from these irritating kinds of communications.

How does Castle work?

Castle is not the first app made to block robocalls, but its creators say the application is unique for the straightforward approach it takes to get results. Often, people using apps besides Castle have to block every problematic number manually. That’s extraordinarily time-consuming, especially if the number is that of a business that needs its phone lines open to serve customers.

In contrast, Castle doesn’t require blocking each number. Instead, you can focus on all numbers that begin in a certain way. You enter the area code, plus the first three digits of a phone number — also called the prefix. Then, when numbers matching those parameters come through, they’ll automatically go to your voicemail.

Applying algorithms for success

When most people see numbers appearing on their phone displays, they tend to quickly categorize them as either familiar or unfamiliar. But since there are multiple CNAMs and databases, Caller ID name information can be frustratingly ambiguous.

Because these numbers and their respective caller IDs aren’t always distinguishable, Castle uses its intelligent design to keep scammers from calling you.

According to information from Castle’s creator, the app takes an algorithmic approach to numbers and what those digits mean. The algorithm recognizes patterns in scam numbers — such as that they have the same area codes and prefixes — and treats those as spam.

The rise of neighbor spoofing

An emerging robocalling trick called “neighbor spoofing” involves calls from numbers seemingly originating in your neighborhood or another local area. Scammers aren’t successful if people don’t pick up their phones, and this new technique sometimes makes them interested enough to see who’s on the other end of the line.

This is an example of how — like people who orchestrate many other kinds of scams — the individuals who set up robocalls get progressively smarter about how to fool people once they learn what works and what doesn’t. However, Castle’s creator mentions competing apps can’t block neighbor-spoofing calls yet, but Castle can.

Permit certain numbers from your contact list

One of the reasons neighbor spoofing is so successful in making people answer spam calls is because the numbers that come across typically look similar to those family members, friends or fellow locals use. So, a person could reasonably wonder if perhaps someone they know got a new number that’s close to what their old one was.

Castle keeps that scenario in mind and allows users to permit — or whitelist — designated numbers from their contact lists with two taps. Then, you don’t need to worry the app might mistakenly think a relative’s call is from a scammer.

Stop letting robocalls disrupt your flow

Whether you get robocalls on the phone you use at home, at work or both, those unwanted calls command your attention and distract you from tasks. By using Castle, you can stop letting them take your mind off your responsibilities and rest assured that if any such calls offered information you need to hear, it’s possible to listen to the voicemails later.

How many spam and robocalls do you get a day? Would you use something like Castle? Let us know in the comments.

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Kayla Matthews is a technology writer and blogger who runs ProductivityBytes.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter to read all of her latest posts!

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