If you’ve been getting a crazy number of spam calls and robocalls lately, you aren’t alone. Fortunately, there are a few options out there to help you block them.
In this article, I’ll take a close look at Truecaller, which is a caller ID app that helps to block spam calls and texts.
I downloaded the app and tried it out myself, and I read the fine print of how Truecaller works to help you decide if you should download it.
How To Stop Spam Calls With Truecaller
In order to combat spam calls coming to our cell phones every day, there are several options on the market for call blocking, and many of them are free.
Each of the three major cell service providers offers some sort of call filtering, and you can add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry. However, these methods may not catch every call. For an additional layer of protection, you may consider downloading a free spam call blocking app such as Truecaller.
Truecaller uses two different methods to identify and block spam calls. You can also filter your text messages through Truecaller, and you can look up phone numbers with Truecaller’s in-app directory. Of course, this all requires granting a lot of permissions to an app on your phone.
Before you decide to download Truecaller, here are five things to know:
- What Is Truecaller?
- How Does Truecaller Work?
- Is Truecaller Safe?
- How To Use Truecaller
- Final Thoughts: Pros and Cons
Below, you’ll find more information about Truecaller including how it works, how to get started with the app, pros and cons, and more.
What Is Truecaller?
Truecaller is a caller ID and spam blocking app that’s available on the App Store and Google Play. In addition to identifying who’s calling and blocking unwanted calls and texts, you can also look up phone numbers through the Truecaller app to identify who’s calling and whether or not a text is spam.
The Truecaller app itself was developed in 2009 in Stockholm. According to the company’s website, it now has 320 million active users, 500 million app installs and 10 billion spam calls identified and blocked.
Truecaller is free to download, and basic features, including caller ID, spam call blocking and spam text filtering, are available for free. However, there are paid subscription options that offer additional features.
Truecaller is an ad-supported free app. You can remove ads with a paid membership. Premium subscriptions also include increased spam protection and the ability to see if anyone’s searched the app for your phone number.
How Does Truecaller Work?
According to the company’s website, Truecaller works by identifying each incoming call and categorizing it as “normal,” “priority,” “spam” or “business” using a color-coded system. As each call comes through, you’ll see the corresponding color along with a brief caller ID.
The caller ID system is powered by two methods: phone directory and community sourcing.
If you give the necessary permissions in the app, Truecaller will use data from your contacts list to identify incoming calls and texts. According to Truecaller, “the name connected to the number is based on sources like user profiles and crowdsourcing of names.”
Community sourcing is the second way that Truecaller works to identify spam calls. If a large number of Truecaller users report a certain number as “insurance spam,” or another type of spam call, that’s what the caller ID will show if you get a call from that number.
In practice, after setting up Truecaller, I found that it works in the background without having to interact much with the app. As numbers come in, you’ll see when they’re identified as spam. Even after the calls, you can see Truecaller’s color-coded label in your call log.
To learn more about how Truecaller works, including how your data is protected, visit Truecaller’s website.
Is Truecaller Safe?
Based on my research, Truecaller is a safe app to use, though it does collect and use some personal data with your permission. Personal data includes your name, phone number, any information you use to sign up for Truecaller and any information that you add to your Truecaller profile. If you grant the appropriate permissions, it may also access data saved in your contacts list to help identify incoming calls and texts.
You can’t use Truecaller to find someone’s phone number by entering their name. In the same way, the only information that will be shared with someone who looks up your phone number is your name and any public profile information you’ve added to Truecaller and given permission to display publicly.
Truecaller reviews seem mostly positive. As of September 2022, the app has a 4.5-star rating from 251.8K reviews on the App Store. On Google Play, it maintains its 4.5-star rating average with 18.1M reviews.
Of course, some personal data is necessary to collect for caller identification purposes, and the app has to collect some data in order to determine the source of incoming calls. However, in my experience, Truecaller is very transparent about the data it collects and how it’s used.
How To Use Truecaller
If you decide to download Truecaller, you’ll have to take a few initial steps to allow the necessary permissions and activate caller ID.
When I first downloaded Truecaller, I saw a quick breakdown of the services offered. Then, the app prompted me to “turn on all switches” for Truecaller in my phone’s settings. Once I did that, call identification was enabled.
Finally, I was prompted to create a profile with my first and last name, email address and a picture. I chose to enter only my first name and last initial to reduce the amount of personal information I was disclosing. For the same reason, I didn’t enable “personalized ads” when prompted. However, I did enable push notifications for caller ID.
In the app, there are directions under the “Protect” tab to enable SMS filtering for protection from spam text messages. I started to do this, but when I went to my settings, I got this notification:
At that point, I decided not to let Truecaller filter my spam texts. Fortunately, this is an optional feature and you can choose to leave it turned off.
Whether or not you choose to let Truecaller filter your SMS messages or just your calls, it’s a pretty hands-off app once you’ve set it up. After allowing the necessary permissions, I started seeing Truecaller’s color-coded labels on incoming calls.
The app offers additional resources. While some are available only to premium subscribers, one helpful free resource is the reverse phone number lookup. As soon as you open the app, you’ll see a space to search any number (in the “Search” tab). If you get a call from an unknown number that may or may not have been spam, this is one potential way to find out.
To learn more about how to use Truecaller, check out a full list of the app’s features on Truecaller’s website.
Final Thoughts: Pros and Cons
Truecaller is a legitimate free caller ID app that can block spam calls and text messages. It does collect some personal information from you, but in my experience, Truecaller is very transparent about the data being collected. Ultimately, it is safe to use.
Before you download Truecaller, here are a few pros and cons to keep in mind.
- Caller ID & spam call blocking. The best feature of the app is available for free, and it does work. Truecaller can help to identify and block spam/robocalls and texts.
- Number lookup. You can use Truecaller to look up questionable phone numbers and see who they may be associated with.
- Works in the background. While Truecaller’s free version does have ads, I didn’t notice pop-up notifications or anything annoying that would prompt me to pay for the ad-free version. Plus, the whole app was relatively hands-off once I set it up.
- Data sharing (with permission). Truecaller collects personal data from your phone to identify and block spam calls and texts. While Truecaller is transparent about the data it’s collecting and how the company uses it, an app like this is a bit invasive.
- Premium features aren’t free. In addition to eliminating ads, the premium subscriptions for Truecaller let you see who’s searched for your number or viewed your Truecaller profile. It also provides incognito mode and “premium spam protection.” Premium subscriptions start at $4.49 per month for a “Connect” membership and range up to $249.99 per year for a “Gold” membership.
I didn’t have any problems or major complaints when testing out Truecaller myself, but I likely won’t keep the app installed on my phone.
My service provider offers built-in spam call protection, which has been working well for me so far without having to worry about sharing sensitive data with a third-party app. If I didn’t already have this built-in protection, I would consider keeping Truecaller to help differentiate important calls from spam.
For more ways to block robocalls yourself, be sure to check out our guide on how to stop spam calls for good.