On Tuesday, AT&T became the first major United States wireless company to automatically block robocalls for its customers. Those who choose to leave the feature on won't receive fraudulent calls and will see calls from telemarketers and spammers flagged as "Suspected Spam" on the caller ID.
More than 4.3 billion robocalls were placed just in June, according to the robocall index. Carriers can enable robocall blocking "as long as their customers are informed and have the opportunity to opt out of the blocking", the FCC said at the time.
New AT&T Mobility consumer lines will come with the anti-robocall service, and existing AT&T customers also will have it automatically added to their accounts over the coming months. Recently, FCC ruled that carriers can block robocall on behalf of their customers without having to opt-in.
"When consumers complain to us, they don't distinguish between illegal calls, scam calls, telemarketing calls and spoofed calls", FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in an op-ed for USA Today earlier this year. Now, AT&T customers will only have to opt out via their account settings if they don't wish to have calls blocked.
On July 9, AT&T announced that it will bring automatic fraud call blocking as well as suspected spam call alerts to all of its mobile customers for free. If anyone wants to add the feature right away, they can go ahead and install the AT&T Call Protect app or add the feature manually through their accounts to get the benefits.
Other carriers offer similar options, but AT&T is the first so far to automatically block calls.
The Federal Communications Commission voted last month to let phone companies block robocalls by default even when consumers have not opted in to robocall-blocking services. AT&T says it identifies fraud and spam calls "through data analytics and network blocking, as well as reports from customers".
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