Editor's Note: This article previously appeared on Numeracle's blog, and is re-published here with permission.
In the age of call blocking and labeling, it’s hard to keep up with how many new features and technologies are available at the carrier, device, and app level. As consumers continue to voice concerns about unwanted and scam calls, pressure on the telecom industry has resulted in an influx of methodologies by which scam, spam, fraud, and unknown calls can be minimized.
For a quick crash course on the most popular solutions out there today, we’ve included call blocking and labeling solutions provided by the top four carriers as well as two very interesting features provided by Google and Apple.
AT&T Call Protect
Back in July of 2019, AT&T began adding automatic fraud call blocking to millions of AT&T wireless lines at no charge.
As the first carrier to release free call blocking features to subscribers in the weeks following the FCC’s Default Call Blocking Declaratory Ruling, this carrier continues to add new features that make “unwanted robocalls even easier to avoid.”
The free version of AT&T’s Call Protect includes:
- Automatic Fraud Blocking: detects and blocks calls from likely fraudsters
- Spam Risk Blocking: blocks or sends to voicemail calls identified as Spam Risk
- Nuisance Call Warnings: provide a heads up on potential nuisance calls with warnings of telemarketers, account services and more
- Unknown Callers: sends callers not in your contact list to voicemail
- Personal Block List: lets you block specific unwanted calls
- Siri Shortcuts: enables blocking and reporting of unwanted calls with voice commands
Call Protect Plus (paid features) include:
- Caller ID: identifies unknown caller details
- Reverse Number Lookup: provides details when you enter a U.S. number
- Custom Call Controls: lets you choose call categories to accept, block, or send to voicemail
Verizon Call Filter
Verizon, the second major carrier to release free call blocking options to subscribers in September 2019, provides its free Call Filter app to screen incoming calls.
Current Verizon customers on eligible plans with compatible Android devices are automatically enrolled in the free version of Call Filter. iPhone users are required to download and sign-in to the free Call Filter app from the app store.
The free version of Call Filter includes:
- Spam Detection: get real-time alerts for over 100 million spam callers
- Spam Filter: easily set up filters to auto-block the worst offenders
Call Filter Plus (the paid subscription) includes:
- Caller ID: put a name and picture to unknown logos
- Spam Look Up: get access to a database of over 100 million spam callers
- Personal Block List: block the number once and forget it
- Spam Risk Meter: assess the incoming call’s risk in real-time
The popular label “Scam Likely” is what users of T-Mobile’s Scam ID would see in place of a phone number when a suspected fraud call is placed.
This call labeling is turned on by default and provided for free to T-Mobile subscribers without the need to download an app.
The default Scam ID services include the following:
- Scam ID: automatically identifies calls from likely scammers via labeling
An additional T-Mobile free feature, when enabled, also allows users to block scam calls before they have the chance to ring.
- Scam Block: filters out scammers before you get the call
For an additional fee, subscribers can also enroll in T-Mobile’s Name ID app to receive enhanced services such as:
- Caller Verified: users can identify, screen, reverse search, filter calls by type, and compile custom blocklists
Sprint offers both a free and paid service to identify and block incoming calls on a subscription basis.
- Basic Spam Detection: this free solution detects only the highest risk spam calls and alerts you via notifications and the incoming call screen
- Premium Caller ID: with this paid solution, incoming calls will not only be identified with the Calling party’s name if available but will also contain text and graphical warnings to provide you with the best information available to determine how you want to manage the call
Google Call Screen
Call Screen on Pixel phones lets Google Assistant screen and answer your phone calls by providing a transcript of what is being said in real-time.
With every incoming call, a new ‘screen call’ button will appear by default. The user just needs to tap this screen call button to immediately answer the call and have Google Assistant begin speaking to the caller.
Through this feature, you can choose to tell the caller you aren’t available, ask for more information, or pick up the call once you know it’s a legitimate caller that you need/want to speak to.
It’s marketed as an easy way to answer a call from numbers you don’t recognize without having to interact if the caller is spam or a scam call.
However, transcripts are not always accurate, and those communicating for business purposes worry about the “unprofessional” nature of requiring business colleagues to interact with Google Assistant.
iPhone Call Silencing
Apple’s new iOS13 software release includes a controversial setting to send all unknown callers straight to voicemail. This includes callers not previously saved to a user’s Contacts (address book), recently dialed in an outgoing call, or found in the Messages (text messaging) or Mail (synced email) apps.
Many issues have been cited in terms of this feature’s usability. Yes, it screens unknown “robocallers,” but it screens just about everyone else as well, unless you’ve recently interacted with and/or saved their phone number.
Here’s more on Apple’s iOS13 from Kim Komando:
As the primary caregiver to my mother, I get calls all the time from doctors and clinics. And these calls are extremely important.
Imagine having a critical call come in from a doctor that you’ve been waiting on and, because you’re using Apple’s robocall blocker, the call goes to voicemail and you don’t get the sensitive information in time. You could end up missing an important appointment or worse.
What about calls coming in dealing with business? Missing out on those calls could cost you big bucks.
We’ve focused here on carrier-provided call labeling and blocking, as well as some new features at the device level. There are also hundreds of third-party apps a user could download directly to their mobile device to screen calls, either in addition to what’s being provided by their carrier, or instead of.
As the list of available technologies continues to grow, it’s increasingly important to spread awareness within your organization on the various potential roadblocks your calls may encounter on their way to your consumers. With anywhere from 10–30% of legitimate business calls incorrectly labeled or blocked across the network, knowledge and prevention can make a real difference in maintaining positive relationships with your consumer-base.
If you’d like to engage with us on some of the key learnings Numeracle has uncovered when it comes to taking a proactive approach to call blocking and labeling, understanding the impact of labeling unique to each organization, and developing long-term contact rate improvement strategies as the result, get in touch today!
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