7 On Your Side: Testing apps that ID unwanted calls

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
One of the common annoyances in life are calls from unwanted telemarketers, robocalls and scammers.
7 On Your Side looks at ways people are stopping these calls from getting through.

There's an app for everything these days, so why not an app for stopping robocalls to your cellphones? Not only can those calls be irritating, but they can eat into your minutes. We compared two of those apps with people who have used them.



"I like to be able to use something that makes my life easier," Oakland resident Gabriel Cooley said.

Cooley uses an app called White Pages Current. He found out about it after almost being scammed by someone who claimed to be from the IRS.

"It was a little bit freaky. If you can imagine someone calling you telling you that you owe money and you're going to jail that day," Cooley said.

The app warns him when not to pick up the call.

"It will tell you fraudulent call, so you don't have to answer it," Cooley said.

Tom Donlea is director of Risk Services at White Pages Current. He says, "We have preloaded into Current over 21,000 known or suspicious fraudulent numbers."

Richard Palazzolo prefers a different app called Privacy Star. The app color codes his calls.

"If it's just green, it's just somebody not in my address book. If it's yellow, it's questionable. If it's red, it's like a red flag," Palazzolo said.

He also has the ability to block a number and that will prevent the caller from ever getting through.

Charles Morgan is CEO of Privacy Star. He said, "We are offering the scam blocker and certain complaint filing and certain other features free."

They also offer a reverse number look up on their website, along with top phone numbers it has connected to scamsters and telemarketers.

We wanted to put both apps to the test. For that we went to San Mateo residents Salvador Mireles and Gerson Benavides; each agreed to try both apps for two weeks. Neither was impressed with Privacy Star.

"It was supposed to block calls or alert me, but it didn't do much for me," Benavides said.

"Privacy Star was, it seemed, they just wanted to sign you up for their premium use," Mireles said.

Both were bothered by the constant reminders to upgrade. The premium version starts at $1.99 and offers unlimited caller ID and reverse number look up. White Pages also offers a premium app known just as White Pages. The app comes with a search feature for hard to find people. Our testers tried only the free versions and enjoyed Current's location service.

"It has a couple of different options. One of them was to notify you of the location of the person that was calling you. That's pretty much the big function," Mireles said.

"I found the ability to search people was fairly useful," Benavides said.

But both said they were unaware the app could be used to get the latest Facebook postings from both the person calling you and the people you call.

On a scale of 1-4 with 4 being the best, our testers rated Privacy Star a 1 and White Pages a 3. Both apps are for Android phones.
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technology 7 On Your Side apps cellphone smartphones
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