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Unknown Number? Screening Calls Can Save You from This

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Call screening lets you learn who’s calling before you respond to incoming calls. It’s like looking through the peephole before opening the door. Doing so, you’re able to eliminate unwanted spam and scammers and save precious time.

Wondering how you can screen calls? Good ol’ Google has got your back.

Well, mostly. Unfortunately, Google’s call screening service isn’t available in all countries or devices.

Despite this drawback, it still has a lot of good going for it. If you want to learn how you can leverage Google’s call screening features, you’re at the right place. Here, we have a comprehensive guide on how you can screen calls using Google.

Here’s How Call Screening Really Works. And Why You Need It.

The best thing about Google’s call screening feature is that it doesn’t require WiFi or mobile data to work. Instead, it uses your device’s own technology to screen calls.

The advantages of not relying on the internet include:

  • Your caller’s information and your response remain private
  • Call screening works even when your data or WiFi are turned off

Call Screen is powered by Google Assistant. Once you turn this feature on using the Google Phone app, the assistant answers calls from unsaved contacts before you even have to speak. It will ask for the caller’s name and reason for calling along with introducing itself as your assistant.

In the meantime, you will see a real-time transcript of the caller’s response on your screen. Based on that, you can choose to answer the call, send it to voicemail, hang up, block, or report the number.

Google Assistant also gives you a handful of responses you can give to the caller such as:

  • Is it urgent?
  • I’ll call you back
  • Report as spam
  • I can’t understand

Some activities on your phone may, however, impact how this feature works.

For instance, Call Screen doesn’t automatically work if your device is connected to Bluetooth or headphones. You can screen calls manually, though, if you turn on manual call screening. The call is then routed to the connected device.

If any audio or video media is playing while a call comes through, the media will pause so that Google Call Screen works.

Why Screen Calls?

Here’s a quick look at four solid reasons you need to vet calls before you respond.

1. Spammers never quit

Almost half of the American population receives spam calls every day. About another quarter receive them every week.

The problem? Spammers can commit identity theft for their personal benefit. They can use your personal information to draw money from your account, purchase illegal products under your details, or the like.

2. Screening calls can protect you from financial losses

In 2022 alone, consumers lost $8.8 billion to scams, most being imposter scams. Of these, the average monetary loss incurred by individuals through phone scammers was $1,400.

During an imposter scam, the scammer pretends to be someone authoritative by using a business or government number. This way, they can extract your private information. Sometimes they may also trick you into sending them money.

To make things worse, enterprise spoofing techniques are gaining momentum.

In these instances, spam callers use a number identical to a number you know and trust. This makes it easy for you to believe their tactics and disclose sensitive information to them.

For example, several Twitter users recently came forward with spam call incidents involving a fake Apple number phoning them with their personal Apple ID and password.

3. Call screening can save you lots of time

Unless you’re in the habit of canceling every robocall that you encounter, they can be a massive waste of time, even when they’re legal marketing or sales calls.

This can be especially troublesome for businesses.

Due to call fraud, businesses experience a loss of $3 billion in time per year—not including financial losses.

Whether you’re a small business, a one-man service provider, or someone who believes time is money, call screening can come in handy.

4. AI is making scam calls harder to detect

Artificial Intelligence tools like Voice.ai that offer voice replication features are becoming a paradise for scammers.

In fact, one Canadian couple almost fell victim to a scammer’s call who used AI to sound exactly like their son.

Said couple took out a huge sum of money in fear of their son being in jail without his wallet or phone. In truth, a scammer was using voice cloning software to extort money from them.

Unfortunately, these types of scams have been on the rise lately, making it even more necessary to screen calls.

Call Screening Doesn’t Work Everywhere or with Every Device

Screening calls with Google does come with a few limitations.

For one, automatic call screening using Google Assistant is only available in the US. While users in some other countries can also use this feature manually, it’s unavailable in other parts of the world.

There is a way around using it in a country where call screening isn’t available. Simply insert a SIM card from a country where Call Screen works and voila, an easy workaround.

Here’s a list of the countries where you can use manual call screening by Google Assistant:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Spain
  • UK
  • US

In addition to location limitations, there are also device limitations. Namely, Call Screen is only available on Pixel phones and select Android devices.

What’s more, if your device runs on a version older than Android 10, you won’t be able to use the feature even if you have Google Assistant. Even then, Call Screen won’t be able to detect all robocalls.

Call Screen may also make mistakes understanding and transcribing what the caller says due to accent variations and language limitations.

So why isn’t Google Assistant’s call vetting functionality available in certain locations? Three reasons:

  • Limited carrier support
  • Incompatible telecom infrastructure
  • Technical difficulties with language transcription and spam IDing

Fortunately for US phone users, Google Voice does offer a basic call screening alternative.

As part of this feature, Google Voice announces when an unknown caller calls and then asks them their name before you pick up. This way, you can decide if you want to receive the call, hang up, or send the caller to voicemail.

Unlike Google Assistant’s Call Screen, Google Voice’s call screening also works on iPhones. In fact, you can use this feature on your computer, tablet, or any smart device. However, you need to have a Google Voice account and be located in the US.

Call Screening with Phone by Google

Now for the meat of the matter: how to turn on Google Assistant’s Call Screen. Here, we’ll describe the exact steps you need to take to set up this tool on any device.

Screen calls automatically

To start, download the latest version of the Phone application from Google Play. Then follow these simple steps:

  • Open the application and click on the three dots at the top-right corner
  • Doing so will open up a short menu. Tap on Settings from there
  • Now go to Spam and Call Screen > Call Screen
  • If you use a Pixel 6 or older model, go to Unknown call settings and select the types of calls you want to screen
  • If you use a Pixel 7 or newer model, select Automatically screen, Decline robocalls separately for the different caller types you see on your screen

When automatic screening is on, you can accept or decline the call like you usually do. The difference is, instead of you answering the call, Google Assistant will do so first.

However, in case Google identifies the call as spam, your phone will hang up the call immediately.

Screen calls manually

For manually screening calls, tap on Screen call when your phone rings.

If you don’t see this option, turn on manual call screening with these steps:

  • Open the Phone app
  • Go to the three dots at the top-right corner
  • Go to Settings > Spam and Call Screen > Call Screen

Following this, you’ll see instructions to turn on manual call screening.

Can’t find Call Screen under settings? If so, call screening isn’t available on your phone.

Screen calls with Pixel Watch

If you’re a Pixel Watch owner, you can also turn on Call Screen by downloading the Phone by Google app on your watch.

However, you must:

  • Be a US phone user
  • Have a Pixel 6 or newer phone model
  • Download the latest version of the Phone by Google app on both your Pixel devices

Once you meet these conditions, you just have to connect your watch to your phone via Bluetooth.

Finally, turn on automatic call screening on your Pixel phone to use the feature on your watch.

Call Screening with Google Voice

Google Voice’s basic call screening function asks the caller their name if it isn’t already saved in your contacts. It also asks business callers to mention their name unless their business is saved with its number on Google.

On hearing the name, you can:

  • Press 1 to answer
  • Press 2 to send the caller to voicemail
  • Press * to answer the caller after listening to their voice message if you don’t want to hang up

Want to set up call screening with Google Voice on different devices? Read on.

Call screening steps from the Computer

  • Go to voice.google.com
  • Click on Settings at the top-right corner of your tab
  • Go to Calls > Screen Calls
  • Turn on Screen Calls if you want to screen incoming calls

Call screening steps from Android

  • Go to your Google Voice app
  • Tap on the three horizontal lines denoting the Menu
  • Now go to Settings > Calls
  • Turn on Screen Calls for screening incoming calls

Call screening steps from iPhone/iPad

For screening calls on your iPhone or iPad, follow the same steps as setting up Google Voice call screening on your Android phone.

Just go to the Voice app > Menu > Settings > Calls > turn on Screen Calls.

Customize Google Assistant for Call Screening

The main thing that you can customize with Call Screen are the types of callers you’d like to screen.

When you go to Call Screen under Settings, you’ll find four caller types:

  • Spam
  • Possibly faked numbers
  • First-time callers
  • Private or hidden

You can turn on automatic call screening for each option separately or select Ring phone (default) if you don’t want to screen any of these caller types.

For spam calls, you’ll see a third option too: Silently decline.

There are two more customization options here:

  • Save Call Screen audio: Toggle this option on if you want to save recordings.
  • Voice: Click on this to pick either a male or female Google Assistant voice.

Call Screening: The Transcripts and Recordings

When Google Assistant screens a call, its information won’t be saved to your personal or business Google account or anywhere online.

However, you can save the transcripts and recordings of the calls Google screens to your phone.

To turn on this feature, go to the Phone app and turn on Save Call Screen Audio as mentioned above.

To find transcripts and recordings:

  • Open the Phone app
  • Select Recents
  • Select the call you want to find the transcript or recording of
  • Now click Transcript or Transcript and audio
  • In case you don’t see the above two options, tap on History > See transcript

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