T-Mobile is bundling a number of a scam protection measures — some of them have been active for years while a couple are new — and is distributing them to every customer under its own and the Sprint banners in an Un-carrier move called Scam Shield. The news belies a key integration for the company that's coming in a couple of weeks.
Congress has told voice service providers to shut down robocallers and instate call blocking by default. The FCC has mandated just the same. Now, 12 voice service providers have agreed to a series of principles drawn by attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia that include offering that call blocking to consumers for free, implementing STIR/SHAKEN across their networks, and cooperating in investigations.
Automatic call blocking is now the rule of the land thanks to your very own United States federal government — that means you should be getting fewer robocalls and cold dials from spoofed (faked) numbers. It also means the roll-out of a two-part authentication system between the network sending and the network receiving named SHAKEN/STIR. This very system has just been deployed for calls between the AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai is preparing a new set of anti-robocalling measures that the commission will vote on during its next public meeting on June 6. The ruling would compel carriers to make automatic call blocking an opt-out feature for customers rather than an opt-in feature. Pai has a couple of suggestions for filtering methods including one based off the customer's own contacts list on their phone.
Your smartphone already lets you block annoying callers so that you never have to deal with them again, but what if it could be proactive? Android could soon allow you to block calls and texts from sources that haven't even called you yet.
Over the past several months, I've become increasingly familiar with how to block phone numbers in Google's Phone app: reject a suspicious call, go into my call history, long-press the dubious number, then tap "Block/report spam." This process is simple enough, but it's still just a reactionary, case-by-case measure. Android P may improve this call-blocking experience by giving users a smarter, preemptive way to block types of phone numbers — that is, so long as your carrier doesn't get in the way
Since Alexa was updated to support voice calls and messaging, the common complaint has been that one can't block communications. There was no whitelist or blacklist so anyone with the app and your phone number would be able to call your device and force you to listen to their message. Even if a number were blocked on your phone, it would still ring your Echo. Well as of today that's no longer a problem. The Alexa app has now been updated to fix the privacy omission. You can now block contacts.
AT&T is not usually one to leave money on the table, but in a rare showing of benevolence, it has launched a new service called Call Protect. It can be activated free on AT&T devices, allowing you to block numbers and get warnings of potential spam calls at the network level.
There are about a half-dozen countries that have enacted some form of official "do not call" registry and many others that have signed in laws to prevent various types of spammy behavior from running rampant over the telephone system. Unfortunately, little to nothing is done to enforce these laws and the penalties usually aren't steep enough to discourage bad behavior. Google is taking matters into its own hands and giving users a way to fight back. Starting today, a new version of the Phone app is rolling out to Nexus and Android One devices with built-in spam warnings.
The warning feature comes as a part of the phone app's existing Caller ID capability, which already maintains a very thorough directory about various businesses.