AT&T Is Enabling Its Robocall Blocking Tech by Default

Illustration for article titled ATT Is Enabling Its Robocall Blocking Tech by Default
Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

Robocalls are annoying as hell, and thanks to new techniques like caller ID spoofing that makes phone spam appear like it’s coming from a legitimate number, the problem is only getting worse.

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Thankfully, following a recent FCC decision that allows carriers to implement robocall blocking tech automatically, AT&T just announced that it would enable its Call Protect service for millions of users.

To start, AT&T will activate Call Protect for all new AT&T Mobility customers, and then in the coming months, AT&T will enable Call Protect for existing subscribers.

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While AT&T’s Call Protect isn’t new, because of previous FCC regulation, users had to opt-in to the service as opposed to the new rules which allow carriers to turn on robocall and phone spam protection by default.

For current AT&T subscribers who don’t want to wait for the carrier to turn on Call Protect for you, the good news is that you can turn on the service yourself now by downloading the Call Protect app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or logging into your account and turning on the service from there. And if you’re someone who’s still holding onto a home phone line, you can also activate Call Protect by going into your account and activating the feature manually.

While today’s news is a welcome upgrade in the fight against robocalls, AT&T isn’t the only carrier or phone maker implementing new methods of preventing unwanted calls. Last year, Google updated its Phone app so that it could automatically screen spam calls and send them straight to voicemail.

Meanwhile, earlier this spring Verizon made its Call Filter app free for all of its customers, which echoes what T-Mobile had been doing with its Name ID app.

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More recently, carriers including T-Mobile, Verizon and others have been expanding the use STIR/SHAKEN tech to more easily identify spam callers, flag known spam numbers, and warn users of incoming robocalls by flagging suspicious calls as “Spam Likely” or in some cases, blocking them on a network level before spammers can even ring your phone.

However, trying to prevent robocalls remains an ongoing cat and mouse game, because as soon as carriers and device makers figure methods to stop specific attacks, spammers tend to figure out new ways to spam your phone. AT&T turning on Call Protect by default is a helpful addition, but it’s still not a blanket fix for the robocall plague that people might be wishing for.

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Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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DISCUSSION

charlesengasser
Charles Engasser

Allow residential/cell customers to charge callers per call like you used to be able to do with a 900 number. Let them set numbers that shouldn’t be charged, and everyone else has to pay $2.00/minute or sumsuch.

If a telemarketer wants to call me at $2.00/min I’d be like that sloth@the DMV in Zootopia.

You’d see robodialers disappear instantly,  probably. Or at the very least, numbers that charge would actually go into a do not call registry like they claim.