We cover the widespread — and still growing — problem of robocalls and spam calls pretty extensively, in part because the people behind this seem to get more creative at finding ways to essentially spam our phones while industry and government officials seem to make little headway fighting back. Thankfully, though, that’s starting to change, little by little.
We told you last month about T-Mobile’s new “Caller Verified” tool that’s designed to crack down on spoofed calls — those calls you get that seem to be coming from a local number but that are really just from spammers who are trying to trick you into answering the phone. T-Mobile’s tool uses existing industry STIR and SHAKEN technology standards to assure phone owners that the call they’re getting is indeed from a legitimate number.
Verizon, meanwhile, is releasing its own attempt at tackling this same problem next month — a “Call Filter” app that will have both a free and premium component (with the premium component costing $2.99 a month to use but free for the first 10 days). In honor of Valentine’s Day today, Verizon teased the app’s arrival in March as a way of helping you “break up” with unwanted calls. What the app does:
Per an FAQ, the app lets you see contact details for unknown callers like their name, phone number, city and state. If the caller has uploaded an image to their Call Filter profile and you’re using an Android or BlackBerry device, you’ll also see their picture (Sorry iPhone users, no pictures for you).
If you have an eligible device, Call Filter also gives you a range of call management features, like spam detection, which will alert you if an incoming call is likely spam, a robocaller or potential fraud. It will also give you an easy way to report a number, which will in turn help Verizon improve the spam detection on its end. And, of course, you’ll be able to set up your own spam filter and personal block list to automatically send unwanted calls to voicemail.
We mentioned above that Call Filter costs $2.99 a month. However, Verizon says it will offer some spam and robocall-fighting features for free to all customers by the end of March. Within the Call Filter app, for example, free features will include the ability to detect and block spam. According to Verizon, “all other Call Filter features remain available at the existing $2.99/month price.”
This is one more indication that the tide is hopefully starting to turn in the fight against these billions of calls that Americans regularly get. Just this week, in fact, FCC chairman Ajit Pai warned the biggest telecom giants that his agency would take action if they fail to make headway this year in cracking down on robocalls.