Robocalls are, to put it mildly, a plague on society. They arrive at the most inconvenient times, masquerade as local or familiar numbers and can put you at risk for more unwanted calls if you answer.
The robocall surge is so severe it prompted the government to finally take steps to curb the onslaught. A series of rulings by the FCC gave carriers more authority to implement changes and clear the way for robocalls to be blocked by default. Click or tap to see how, exactly, the FCC is tackling robocalls.
The government has empowered the nation’s mobile carriers to battle with robocalls in their own unique ways. No two carriers have the same tactics to stop them, so here’s a a brief overview on each carrier’s plans for the robocall war. Are you ready to fight back?
AT&T automatically attacks
AT&T’s solutions to the robocall epidemic are mostly rooted in automation. The company offers a free service for customers called Call Protect that includes features like automatic call blocking and spam alerts. It also offers a paid subscription for more robust blocking and caller ID features to stop the more deceptive callers and spammers.
AT&T Call protect includes the following features:
- Automatic Fraud Blocking: Scans and blocks suspected scam calls — whether they’re automated or not.
- Heads up on Suspected Spam: Will warn you of potential telemarketer or spam calls that make it through AT&T’s filters.
- Unknown callers: Anyone not in your contact list can be sent straight to voicemail.
- Personal Block List: Build a custom block list for unwanted callers.
- Report Spam Calls: Report robocalls that make it through the filters and help make AT&T’s filters better.
For $3.99 a month, customers can get access to Call Protect Plus. It also includes Automatic Fraud Blocking and the Personal Block List, as well as a few other features:
- Spam Risk Alerts: Alerts that tell you the likelihood a call is spam.
- Enhanced Caller ID: Gives details about “unknown” callers.
- Reverse Number Lookup: Look up a number you don’t recognize.
- Custom Call Controls: Custom filter for calls, such as “direct-to-voicemail.”
Verizon verifies the villains
Verizon offers a free service called Call Filter that gives users access to call and spam screening on demand. It gives you the ability to identify unknown numbers by name when available.
Android phones on Verizon come with the company’s Call Filter app pre-installed, but to get these features on an iPhone, you’ll have to download the call filter app from the app store. Click or tap here to download.
Additional features include the following:
- Automatic Call Blocking: Scans and blocks suspected scam calls.
- Report Spam Calls: Report robocalls that make it through Verizon’s filters and help improve the company’s robocaller database.
- Reverse Number Lookup: Look up a number you don’t recognize and get the name of the caller.
You can also get Call Filter Plus, which is only $2.99 per month for one line or $7.99 per month for three or more lines. The features you get with Call Filter Plus are:
- Spam Look Up: Get access to a database of over 100 million spam callers.
- Personal Block List: Block an unknown number once and never receive calls from them again.
- Spam Risk Meter: This feature ranks a caller based on robocall likelihood.
T-Mobile torches telemarketers
T-Mobile was one of the first to embrace the fight against robocalls, and offers several helpful features to users at no charge. By default, T-Mobile subscribers get are able to ID robocallers and set up automatic blocking.
For an additional fee of $4 per month per line, subscribers get access to the company’s Name ID app, where you can build custom block lists based on categories and frequent callers. Other features at T-Mobile include the following:
- Scam ID: Customers are automatically alerted when an incoming call is likely a scam. No app required and no need to opt in or turn it on, as it operates at the network level and works through a T-Mobile phone with Caller ID.
- Scam Block: When enabled, T-Mobile will stop scam calls before they ever reach your phone. Customers can turn it on by dialing #662# in their MyTMobile account or in the Name ID app.
- Caller Verified: Users can see if incoming calls are authentic.
Sprint sells sanctuary
Unlike the other carriers, Sprint doesn’t offer a free robocall service. Its Premium Caller ID feature is available for $2.99 per month per line, and displays the names of callers even if they’re not in your address book. On select devices, it will automatically screen and block unwanted robocalls.
You’ll have to contact Sprint to subscribe, but once your account is set up with Premium Caller ID, you can customize it via the My Sprint app. Click or tap here to download it for iPhone, or click or tap here to download for Android.
As of right now, it’s unknown how the upcoming T-Mobile-Sprint merger will affect the companies’ robocall features, but analysts speculate T-Mobile’s features will become available to Sprint users, rather than the other way around. To learn more about how this merger will affect your phone bill, click or tap here.