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AT&T will finally help users effectively block harassing robocalls

Published Jul 9th, 2019 6:35PM EDT
Robocalls
Image: Photo by Cx Matiash/AP/Shutterstock

Over the past few years, annoying robocalls have seemingly become inescapable and, for some, an everyday nuisance. Last year alone, there were upwards of 48 billion robocalls made to individuals in the United States, a figure which represents a 325% increase compared to 2017. What’s more, the scammers behind many of these robocalls have gotten better at tricking users into picking up the phone.

Thankfully, help is on the way on a number of fronts. Most recently, AT&T announced that it will automatically enable its Call Protect service for users, a move which should alleviate the headache caused by a seemingly endless stream of robocalls. The service will immediately be active for new subscribers and should extend out to existing customers in the coming months.

As detailed on AT&T’s website, here’s what the Call Protect service brings to the table:

Automatic Fraud Blocking detects and blocks calls from likely fraudsters.

Suspected Spam Alert identifies telemarketers and other suspected spam calls.

Personal Block List lets you block unwanted calls by number.

Enhanced Caller ID† identifies unknown caller details.

Reverse Number Lookup† provides details when you enter a U.S. number.

Custom Call Controls† lets you choose call categories to accept, block, or send to voicemail.

The Enhanced Caller ID, Reverse number lookup, and custom call control features have asterisks because they are available with AT&T Mobile Security and Call Protect Plus, which requires users to fork over $3.99 a month. That notwithstanding, the default protections are welcome, long overdue, and come shortly after the FCC ruled last month that carriers can block robocalls by default. Of course, the FCC ruling didn’t mention that carriers have to provide such a blocking service for free.

On a related note, you may recall that the FTC earlier this year slapped significant fines on four companies found to be responsible for millions of robocalls. Taken together, perhaps it’s only a matter of time before we can go back to freely using our phones for a variety of time-wasting activities without being bothered by intrusive robocalls.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.