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, in partnership with their 3rd party analytics providers, as well as two very interesting features now provided via Google and Apple mobile devices.
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:
Call Protect Plus (paid features) include:
Verizon works with the call blocking and labeling analytics provider, Transaction Network Services (TNS). They were the second major carrier to release free call blocking options to subscribers in September 2019, through 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:
Call Filter Plus (the paid subscription) includes:
T-Mobile works with the call blocking and labeling analytics provider, First Orion. 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:
An additional T-Mobile free feature, when enabled, also allows users to block scam calls before they have the chance to ring.
For an additional fee, subscribers can also enroll in T-Mobile’s Name ID app to receive enhanced services such as:
Sprint also works with the call blocking and labeling analytics provider, Transaction Network Services (TNS), though it's unclear if this may change due to the recent Sprint/T-Mobile merger.
Sprint offers both a free and paid service to identify and block incoming calls on a subscription basis.
Moving away from carrier-driven call blocking and labeling analytics and into call blocking at the device level, 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.
Apple’s iOS13 software release (fall of 2019) 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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