T-Mobile and AT&T join Verizon in rolling out free anti-robocalling technology
Robocalling is a phenomenon that isn’t exclusive to the US, but it’s far less frequent elsewhere. According to statistics from YouMail, nearly 48 billion robocalls were made in 2018 just in the US, and over 37% of these calls were spam calls. Google’s screen calling lets you identify spam callers by making Google Assistant talk to them, and Verizon took steps to allow anybody to block robocalls for free. The free version of Verizon’s robocall blocking service helps detect spam and will allow you to report the phone number, while the paid version at $2.99 a month includes features like personal spam and block list, risk meter, and spam lookup. T-Mobile and AT&T are teaming up and joining Verizon in offering free anti-robocalling technology.
The system is based on the SHAKEN/STIR caller authentication technology, which is designed to prevent illegal caller ID spoofing. A big part of the problem is that robocallers are spoofing their phone numbers, which this should help to prevent. For example, a call that is illegally “spoofed” – or shows a faked number – will fail the SHAKEN/STIR Caller ID verification and will not be marked as verified. It won’t solve the problem of robocalling itself, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. It doesn’t block calls either, and instead only lets the receiver know if the call is verified or not. T-Mobile has been offering free Scam ID and Scam Block to its customers since early 2017, with Scam ID being automatically enabled and Scam Block being a free opt-in service. Verizon still doesn’t use SHAKEN/STIR technology either, despite the FCC pushing for companies to do so before the end of the year.
Devices will need to support the system though, and it will only work for those calling between T-Mobile and AT&T for now. It would appear that this is an extension of T-Mobile’s Caller Verified that launched earlier this year. Phone numbers on non-participating carriers can’t be verified. SHAKEN/STIR can only tell when a call is legitimate, but not if it is a spam call. As more carriers join the program, more devices will become authenticated and the chances of an unauthenticated device being marked as such will increase.