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Security & privacy

Screen your calls with an app that shows why a business is phoning you

Most of us avoid calls from businesses that we aren’t expecting to receive — especially when we don’t recognize what the business is or why they’re calling. Dodging phone calls can get old, though, considering so many come in each day. Incessant spam calls can bury legitimate ones and make it tough to tell what is what.

But while avoiding calls from unrecognized business numbers can minimize the chances of accidentally answering a spam call, it can also put a damper on important business. After all, the same company can use several different numbers or extensions, making it easy to miss a call you need. Tap or click here for ways to stop annoying robocalls.

There’s a new solution that could help end these types of issues. A new app aims to cut down on missed calls from businesses you want to talk to by showing you the name of the company that’s calling along with other pertinent information — making it easy to identify the ones you want to take while avoiding those you don’t need to answer.

Verified Calls by Google

This new app is called Verified Calls by Google, and it’s aimed at Android users specifically. According to a Google post, this app was created because “businesses often rely on phone calls to reach out to new customers and serve existing ones. But here’s the hang-up: customers often don’t answer the call if they don’t recognize the number. They worry it could be spam, or worse, a scam…”

Related: Listen to these scam calls so you don’t fall for them

Verified Calls aims to solve this problem by showing the caller’s name, logo, reason for calling and a verification symbol that indicates the company has been authenticated by Google. This is done in a secure way, according to Google — and it won’t collect or store any personally identifiable information after initial verification.

Businesses have to opt into the service, but once it’s set up, the company will give Google’s Verified Calls server its number, the customer’s phone number and information on why they’re calling, like “your food delivery,” or “potential fraudulent bank activity,” for example.

This info, in turn, is sent to your device’s Google Phone app, which compares information. If it’s a match, the app will display the call as verified and offer the reason for the call, which will be deleted from your phone app after a few minutes to protect your privacy.

It’s a smart way to ensure calls you’re getting are legitimate, and this new app is rolling out at a time when robocalls are on the rise. Scammers target smartphone users with a number of different sophisticated phone-based schemes and the people who fall for them stand to lose a lot of money to fraudsters on the other end of the line.

RELATED: Some scammers even pose as the FTC to take advantage of the public’s trust.

Having this information appear on your phone display will let you decide whether the call is something you want to take. If a company offers this information up front, you’ll know if it’s a call you’ve been waiting for or one that you want to avoid.

RELATED: You can finally silence those scam calls for free

How to use Verified Calls by Google

Verified Calls is a feature on Google’s Phone app, which means it will come pre-loaded on many Android devices. If you’re using a new Android phone, you may automatically have access to the app.

If you’re using an older Android phone and want to add Verified Calls to your gadget, it will be available for download starting later this week.

This app will initially roll out in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Spain and India, according to Google, but there are more countries to come. For more information on Verified Calls by Google, click here.

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