When I look over the statistics and see the Google search terms for my blog, one of the larger keyword phrases I see is “how to use MagicJack with call blocking or caller ID.” And I’ve good news and bad news. Officially, MagicJack does have caller ID and doesn’t have call blocking. But there are a few nifty free tricks you can easily do to have those functions.
Since caller ID is the easiest let’s do that first. MagicJack essentially keeps a log of all incoming (and outgoing) calls. And basically you just need to label the numbers. Once the numbers are labeled whenever you get a call from the number again you’ll be able to identify the caller. So there you go “caller ID.” It’s easy, but a little bit of a speed bump. I think the real thing people want is the ability to identify “unknown callers.” Guess what though? If the person calling you has chosen to hide their number you wouldn’t be able to see it anyway. So back to square one no matter what phone service you use.
But I understand where all this leads; getting calls from unknown callers makes you want something to block them. And again, “regular” phone companies aren’t really furnishing this service as much as they used to. I remember in the 90’s being able to get call blocking and then the phone companies seemed to have stopped offering it and started giving out a “if the caller is harassing you fill out a police report, send that to us and we’ll block the number” solution. I don’t know why but the phone companies just wouldn’t do it, or if they did not without a substantial fee. Internet based phone companies like MagicJack and Vonage aren’t offering the service either. I was with Vonage for five solid years and no matter how much we complained they just wouldn’t do it.
To the rescue comes a couple of internet solutions. The best solution to block calls is and (at the same time) isn’t available. It used to be called Grand Central. They issue you a phone number and you link it up to all your personal phone numbers. The phone number they give you acts as a first line of defense; you can then block incoming calls, reroute them to your a number of choice, or send them to voicemail. Again, it’s free. But currently it’s being rebuilt as “Google Voice.” I strongly urge MagicJack users, and really everybody, to sign up for a Google Alert to let you know when the service goes live again. In March of 2009 they announced they were nearly ready. And coupled with a service like MagicJack which is only 20 dollars a year (or a dollar a month if you use it the way I do) it’s the most powerful and inexpensive phone/voicemail/texting combination you can get.
Until Google Voice is available I recommend that you get a free piece of software called “PhoneTray.” It will work with your computer’s modem to act as a first line defense with incoming calls. Among the many features it can do for free is it can also block calls. So in just a few minutes you can have a system that will give you a lot of peace.