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Security & privacy

T-Mobile’s new ‘Scam Shield’ helps you fight annoying robocalls

The war against robocalls has been an unforgiving one. Just as it seems like consumers take one step forward, it’s two steps back as the people behind the calls switch up their tactics and figure out new ways to clog up our inboxes.

And because so many of these robocalls come from locations overseas, regulating them through the letter of the law is nearly impossible. Tap or click here to see more reasons why robocalls are so hard to stop.

But mobile subscribers need not suffer robocalls forever. As part of its “Un-carrier” initiative, T-Mobile announced it’s bringing the fight directly to robocallers on the network-level, and all T-Mobile, MetroPCS and Sprint subscribers will be able to reap the benefits. Here’s what it’s doing and how you can get your device ready to fight back against robocalls.

Introducing T-Mobile Scam Shield

In a surprising livesteam put on by T-Mobile, the company revealed it was taking some of the biggest steps yet to directly address the scourge of robocallers and phone scams. As part of its “Un-carrier” initiative, T-Mobile is now offering Scam Shield, a full suite of network and technology solutions designed to curb robocallers and protect subscribers’ phones.

It’s the first major move made by the company since its merger with Sprint, and because of that, all existing Sprint customers will be able to take advantage of these services free of charge. Tap or click here to see more about the T-Mobile and Sprint merger.

Here’s a quick rundown on how Scam Shield works for T-Mobile, Sprint and MetroPCS subscribers:

  1. T-Mobile is now fully implementing the Stir/Shaken protocol, which authenticates incoming calls to make sure they’re legitimate numbers. The result is a filter that trims the number of spoofed phone numbers and incoming overseas calls. Tap or click here for more details on Stir/Shaken.
  2. Enhanced Caller-ID is now available on all devices and will display a “Scam Likely” label on phone calls that make it through the Stir/Shaken filter but cannot be identified. This will help prevent you from missing important calls from doctors, delivery drivers and other callers you may not have saved in your contacts.
  3. All T-Mobile customers will get a second “proxy phone number” free of charge. This will allow you to securely share your phone number with online platforms and businesses without giving your real number away. This can also help reduce the number of spam calls you get, as phone numbers are regularly packaged together with data harvested by analytics firms.
  4. Scam Shield also introduces BeIDAware, which notifies you when your private information is compromised and shows up on Dark Web marketplaces. You can even use this free service to freeze credit should your data be at risk.

Prior to implementing these changes, T-Mobile already ranked around 30% better at identifying scam callers than competing mobile providers. And now, thanks to its acquisition of Sprint, T-Mobile has even more data on legitimate subscriber phone numbers it can use to enhance its filter.

It’s a huge improvement compared to previous attempts by carriers to fight robocalls, and a direct acknowledgment of an issue so many of us are facing at the worst possible time. The company even acknowledged how scammers prey on the hopes of people suffering from the effects of the pandemic. Tap or click here to see how deep the scam problem runs.

When is Scam Shield available? How do I activate it?

Unlike other carriers that charge for enhanced Caller-ID and call-filtering, T-Mobile is offering Scam Shield to subscribers free of charge. You do have to activate it manually, however, but doing so requires no upgrades, updates or time-wasting setups.

Starting July 24, all subscribers can access the in-depth Scam Shield features like Proxy Numbers by downloading the Scam Shield app from the iOS App Store or Google Play. As of today, T-Mobile and Metro customers can automatically activate scam blocking by dialing #662# on their smartphones and pressing Call.

Sprint customers, on the other hand, will need to download an upgraded version of the Call Screener app from their respective app store on July 24. Doing so will activate Scam Shield features like scam ID, blocking and enhanced Caller-ID for their respective devices.

A security update for smartphones that doesn’t require complicated software updates or plan rate changes? We like what we’re hearing — especially since it’s not a robocall making our phones ring for the hundredth time.

Full disclosure: T-Mobile is a sponsor of Kim’s national radio show.

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