This is a shotgun approach but it works for me:
- Buy a MagicJack and set it up with local phone number. You may now disconnect the MJ device as you won’t need it any more.
- Log into your MJ account and set up “call screening”. This makes every caller have to enter a randomly defined number from 0-9. If they’re a robo-caller, the number won’t be entered and MJ hangs up.
- Set your phone to use “conditional forwarding” so that any calls you don’t answer go to the MJ which, as it’s not plugged in anywhere, will just send the call to the call screening and then, should someone successfully enter the correct number, they’ll be sent to your MJ voicemail which you may configure so that the voiceMail gets attached to an eMail and sent to you (and ends up in your phone because you use eMail there, right?).
Any caller who you recognize (a contact or your doctor’s office, for example) you’d answer immediately, of course. Anyone you don’t recognize goes to the MJ for call screening and (if passing the screening process) to your voiceMail which gets eMailed to you. Cold-calling salespeople will get past the call screening but will probably not leave a voice message.
Cost: About $40 to buy an MJ unit (which includes the first year’s service). About $42/yr thereafter. I’ve been using this setup for over a year now and it works perfectly. If I’m on a call I don’t wish to interrupt, conditional forwarding sends that call to the MJ. BTW, the eMail that MJ sends you not only has the voiceMail (audio file) attached but even provides the number that called you.
I realize this may not work for everyone but, for the cost, it works perfectly and I never use the “visual voicemail” provided by my cellphone carrier as every caller I decline or miss has the opportunity to get through call screening and leave a voice message.
One “issue” that’s easy to work around, however: Some iPhones (can’t say which models) send a tone that’s too short for the call screening to notice so I tell my clients, friends, family to hold the key for a second. Problem solved.
Do note that this solution can’t be used for every call. Why? There are some call-back services (from your doctor or some tech-support services) that are actually robo-calls and can’t pass through the call screening. You need to be aware of these and answer your cellphone before conditional forwarding kicks in and forwards the call to the MJ service.