T-Mobile and Verizon adopt FCC standards to block robocalls

T-Mobile and Verizon are releasing new features that should intercept and block scam calls from reaching their customers. (iStockPhoto)

Within the past week, T-Mobile and Verizon have announced new features that will reportedly protect customers from robocalls and scam calls. T-Mobile launched its “caller verified” technology last week and made it immediately available to customers with a Samsung Galaxy Note 9, but won’t make it more widely available until “later this year.” Verizon followed up seven days later with “call filter,” a similar service that will be available to all customers using smartphones in March.

Both carriers say they are committed to supporting the FCC’s STIR (Secure Telephone Identity Revisited) and SHAKEN (Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using tokens) standards, which would validate all calls before reaching customers. “Combating illegal robocalls is our top consumer priority at the FCC,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a prepared statement (PDF) in November, calling for the carriers to swiftly adopt the standards.

“We need call authentication to become a reality—it’s the best way to ensure that consumers can answer their phones with confidence. By this time next year, I expect that consumers will begin to see this on their phones,” he said.

RELATED: AT&T leads in robocalls with 15.1 calls per customer in March

Verizon says it blocked nearly a billion robocalls last year, and its algorithm has identified almost 300 million numbers associated with spam and robocalling. T-Mobile was the first major carrier to announce plans to adopt the FCC’s standards, but it appears Verizon will actually launch the feature first. AT&T and Sprint are expected to launch similar features later this year.

Nearly half, or 44.6%, of all mobile calls this year are expected to be scams, according to a study released in September 2018 by First Orion, a company that provides call management solutions to T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Boost Mobile, Sky, Virgin Mobile and Sprint prepaid customers.