T-Mobile Tackles Spam And Scam Calls

John Lister's picture

T-Mobile says it will give customers free scam-blocking tools to protect against misleading and fraudulent calls. The measures will also cover Metro and Sprint users.

The program, dubbed Scam Shield, involves a range of tactics to combat bogus calls. The logic is to increase the chances of success against any particular attack. (Source: t-mobile.com)

Two of the features come via a dedicated smartphone app that analyzes incoming calls. The first, Scam ID, tries to identify calls that may be using a bogus identity or making unwanted marketing calls.

Spam Calls Auto-Blocked

Users can choose between having such calls automatically blocked, or having them come through, but with an on-screen warning. This may be a technology that improves over time and reduces the number of "false positives" as has happened with email spam filters.

The app also includes a caller ID system that works even if the caller isn't in the user's contact list. Whenever the details are available, the phone screen will show the name of the caller.

It will also add a label reading "call verified" if the call passes a check using a new industry standard technology called STIR/SHAKEN. This works a little like website certificates that confirm the operators of secure websites.

One Number For Friends, One For Marketers

As well as the app, T-Mobile is relaunching a service that used to be called "Digits." Now called "Proxy," it's effectively a second phone number linked to an account. Users can give out this number to businesses or other people who might make unwanted calls. They can then choose whether to receive calls and messages from this number, or have calls automatically sent to voicemail.

Proxy is free for one extra number per account (which may cover several users) though customers can pay for additional numbers. Customers can also get a free change on their main phone number, for example if it is already in the hands of too many marketers to be usable. (Source: engadget.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Do these features sound useful? Would you prefer to block or divert all calls from people not in your contact list? Is this a better solution than trying to crack down on the spam callers?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Speaking from experience, I've been bombarded with so many spam calls that using a phone now is completely impractical. One day I had 10 spam calls in an hour.

The reason for this has to do with malware on smartphones and/or VOIP systems (Internet phones connected to a PC) that are capable of dialing out automated robocalls using synthesized speech - the ones that claim that you owe taxes and that you need to "speak to an agent", otherwise you risk being put in jail. If you press a number then you get in touch with Indian scammers that will bleed you dry of your hard earned money.

Make no mistake - this scam is never going to go away even with technological advances. These people are pure scum and they will always find a way to make it work. It's a billion dollar industry and the money is too good to give up easily.

My solution for the time being: use an Android app on my smartphone called "Calls Blacklist" (free), then set it to blacklist all calls except for what's on my whitelist, which is everyone that is currently a contact on my phone. Voila, no spam calls. Anyone not on my contact (whitelist) will result in one ring coming through on the phone, but then the call is diverted immediately to voicemail. If it's important then the person will leave a message and I call them back.

beach.boui's picture

The easy answer for me was to get a few (3) Google Voice numbers and forward the calls to my cell phone. I give the GV numbers out to people I don't want to have my actual cell number. I rarely give out my real cell number. So, when I see one of my GV numbers on the screen, I know it's a call I probably don't want to answer. If they leave a voicemail, I get a text or an email, and I can check it out at a later time.