AT&T Expands Call Protect, Adds Automatic Fraud Call Blocking
AT&T has announced today that it is expanding its Call Protect service by adding automatic fraud call blocking for millions of customers at no additional charge.
"This expansion of our AT&T Call Protect service is made possible by a June ruling at the FCC. It clarifies that call-blocking tools may be offered by phone service providers on an 'opt out' basis. That means we can automatically provide you the service unless you decline, instead of first asking you to download an app or go to your settings to 'opt in,' the carrier wrote on its AT&T blog.
The new automatic Fraud Call Blocking service will be available to new AT&T Mobility lines as well as existing customers. Existing customers can expect to receive a text message when their accounts have been upgraded to the new service.
New lines will have the service from the start. AT&T Phone customers with home lines also have Digital Phone Call Protect that will do the same thing as Call Protect for mobile customers.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was at The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. back in March of this year when he received a spam robocall on his smartwatch that he dismissed with the words, "it was literally a robocall." The short clip was shared by C-SPAN, to AT&T's embarrassment.
In June, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to give US carriers the power to block unwanted robocalls automatically, allowing carriers to deliver this automatic service to every American customer they have. The FCC demanded that carriers turn on the automatic robocall-blocking technology by default, which scans calls in the same way that email providers scan for spam messages.
Carriers still have to give customers an opt-out opportunity, but customers will have to request when opting out instead of requesting an "opt-in".
The June vote came just months after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai told US carriers to "adopt call authentication, essentially a digital fingerprint, for every single phone call this year...or otherwise it's going to be regulatory intervention." US carriers typically do not like federal regulation of the telecom industry, so it's not surprising to see AT&T follow through with its promise to do something about fraudulent calls.
Providing fraudulent call protection against robocalls and scam calls is just one of the things that telecommunications companies should do free of charge. After all, customers use these wireless and home phone services with the goal of knowing that their calls are protected and that their lines will be safe from fraud and scandal.
And with customers paying such high wireless bills each month, it's no longer enough for wireless giants to take customer money while doing little to stop the incessant problem.
AT&T's new automatic Fraud Call Blocking service, free of charge, is a relief to AT&T customers and will hopefully pave the way for the rest of the industry. Robocalls are an annoyance and a robber of peace and mind to millions of Americans daily, leading to the loss of money by way of checks and credit cards and sensitive personal information.
AT&T isn't the only US carrier working to stop robocalls. Earlier this Spring, Big Red carrier Verizon Wireless unveiled paid ($3 monthly) and free versions of its Call Filter service that it had debuted to a limited audience in January 2019. Spam blocking has been extended to all customers, whether on a paid subscription with Call Filter or not.
T-Mobile has partnered with Comcast to become one of the first carriers to form a cross-network protection partnership against robocalls with the federally approved STIR/SHAKEN standards.
T-Mobile's own robocall-blocking feature, Caller Verified, is available on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Note 8, Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10+, Galaxy S10e, and LG G8 ThinQ.
As of 2018, T-Mobile had blocked 1 billion scam calls and had identified over six billion scam calls.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has created Operation Call It Quits between itself and state partners to bring legal action against fraudulent perpetrators.