FaceTime users are bombarded with group calls from numbers they’ve never seen before, often up to 20 times in quick succession into the wee hours of the night.
Griefs behind the jokes call as many as 31 numbers at once. When a person receiving one of the calls hangs up, another number immediately calls back. FaceTime doesn’t have the ability to only accept FaceTime calls that come from people in the user’s address book. It also requires that all numbers in a group call must be manually blocked to stop the call.
“I got my first facetime spam four days ago,” one user reported on an Apple support forum earlier this month. “It’s been non-stop, blocking over 300 numbers so far. My 3-year-old daughter accidentally answered them and went on video without a t-shirt on.”
The high number of callback requests seems to be a result of other people receiving the call calling everyone back when the first call fails shortly after answering. As more and more people receive follow-up calls, they too are starting to call back.
Apple offers surprisingly few ways for users to stop the nuisance calls. As noted before, users can block numbers, but this requires manually blocking each individual person in the group conversation. That is not an effective solution for people who have dozens of group calls, often to another group of people in a short time, often in the early hours.
“Sick of it”
A user can also turn off FaceTime in iOS settings or in the macOS app, but that prevents users from receiving desired calls as well. Finally, people can disable their phone number under the “where you can be reached” FaceTime setting. But again, this will prevent wanted calls from being initiated with the user’s number.
As the Apple support thread above shows, the nuisance group’s calls date back to at least last year and have been around nonstop ever since.
“It made me sick to death,” one person wrote last June. “I answered one face on it and was a young teenage girl. Other times random art on walls are scary old men. Feel sick. I don’t want to participate in any of these scams or if they try random numbers. But how can you stop it “Do I have to report this to the police? How can I stop this? Please someone help me.”
A Reddit user reported the same issue last week.
The disruptions caused by unwanted group calls could be minimized if Apple gave users the option to block all numbers in a group call with a single check. Multiple thread participants also reported that FaceTime doesn’t have the ability to only take group calls from numbers in the user’s contacts. Ars has asked Apple for comment and this post will be updated as representatives respond.
For now, people who receive spam calls have few options other than the ones mentioned above. Probably the most effective way is to disable FaceTime and wait for the spam wave to die out. Users are not allowed to answer the calls or enable the callers.