Amid the consistent pressure from multi-sectoral advocacy organizations and a series of legislation and agency regulation aimed to end the robocall nuisance, AT&T announced that they are blocking fraud robocalls by default with no extra charge. However, succeeding and more accurate blocking features comes with a $4 monthly price tag.
The new anti-robocalling feature is an expansion of the already existing AT&T program called Call Protect and will start rolling out for new AT&T Mobility consumer lines will come with the anti-robocall service. Millions of existing AT&T customers also will have it automatically added to their accounts over the coming months.
The blocking service also will be added in coming months on lines where the famous telecom company has already automatically added suspected spam alerts, but not fraud blocking. According to a press release from AT&T, users will be properly notified once the service has been fully attached to their account.
For those who want to add the service as soon as possible and can no longer wait, AT&T is giving options to those who are existing consumers of AT&T Mobility. AT&T Call Protect is already available via an app that can be downloaded from both the Apple App Store and Android Play Store. Furthermore, it can be added manually by going into your account settings on myAT&T and turning it on.
Similarly, AT&T Phone customers can activate Digital Phone Call Protect is available by going into the account settings on myAT&T and turning it on.
“AT&T has been working hard to reduce unwanted robocalls. We will continue the fight through call authentication – verifying that callers are not faking their phone numbers – and many other tools,” the company said in a press release.
FCC allows carriers to block robocalls by default
The announcement of the robocall-blocking feature from AT&T comes after the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) voted Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to allow mobile and telecom carriers to block robocalls by default. Pai, who was previously criticized for his commission’s unsuccessful efforts to end the robocall problems, has circulated a declaratory ruling that would allow phone companies and telecommunication carriers to block unwanted phone calls by default and enable consumers to block calls that come from not on their contact list.
Furthermore, the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would propose a safe harbor for providers that implement network-wide blocking of calls that fail caller authentication under the SHAKEN/STIR framework once it is implemented.
“Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and tired of robocalls. By making it clear that such call blocking is allowed, the FCC will give voice service providers the legal certainty they need to block unwanted calls from the outset so that consumers never have to get them,” said Chairman Pai.“And, if this decision is adopted, I strongly encourage carriers to begin providing these services by default—for free—to their current and future customers. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this latest attack on unwanted robocalls and spoofing.”
“The FCC has been a tremendous partner in the war on robocalls,” said Joan Marsh, executive vice president of regulatory & state external affairs for AT&T Communications. “The Commission’s recent action builds on a years-long effort to enable broader adoption of call-blocking tools and allow providers to better protect their customers and networks. AT&T remains committed to working with our government and industry partners in the ongoing battle against unwanted and illegal robocalls.”
Unwanted calls, including illegal robocalls, are the top consumer complaint at the FCC, with more than 200,000 received annually. Some private analysts estimate that U.S. consumers received approximately 2.4 billion robocalls per month in 2016. Advancements in technology make it cheap and easy to make robocalls and to “spoof” Caller ID information to hide the caller’s true identity.
Recently, experts argued that robocalls also affect businesses and organizations – especially medical institutions. A report reveals that hospitals have been receiving a tremendous amount of robocalls daily, which costs them a considerable amount of hospital time and limits their ability to respond to real emergencies. Worse, hospitals are also saying that if this problem escalates, it could lead up to a full-blown health crisis where hospitals can no longer respond to legitimate patient calls.