AT&T said yesterday it would add “automatic fraud blocking and suspicious-call alerts” to cell phone lines for no added cost, but the carrier also limited spam call blocking unless customers pay extra .
“New AT&T Mobility consumer lines will come with anti-robocall service. Millions of existing AT&T customers will also have it automatically added to their accounts in the coming months,” AT&T announcement tell.
Regardless of the change, customers will still have to add phone numbers they don’t want to block lists or pay $4 a month to send all suspected spam calls to voicemail. That’s because this is more than just an expansion of AT&T Call Protection service, which has a free basic level and a paid level with automatic blocking of spam calls.
Call protection has been available since 2016 but only if customers opt in. The difference now is that Call Protection will automatically be added to AT&T phone lines.
The Federal Communications Commission voted last month to make phone companies block robocalls by default even when consumers haven’t logged in to robocall blocking services. Carriers can enable robocall bans “as long as their customers are informed and have an opportunity to opt out of the ban,” the FCC said at the time.
AT&T said the FCC vote is what allows the carrier to extend Call Protection to users without waiting for them to sign in. The FCC ruling “clarifies that call blocking tools can be offered by phone service providers on an ‘opt-out’ basis,” AT&T said. “That means we can provide the service automatically for you unless you refuse, rather than first asking you to download an app or go to your settings to ‘sign in’.”
Call Protection is not available to AT&T prepaid customers, but AT&T Ars said it will be added automatically “to most users, postpaid HD Voice lines” in the coming months. Customers will be notified via text message when the service is added. If you don’t want to wait, AT&T says you can download AT&T Call Protection app or enable Call Protection in those myAT&T report system.
No automatic blocking of spam calls
As mentioned earlier, the function does not block all destructive calls automatically. Note that AT&T’s announcement promised “automatic fraud prevention and spam call alerts” but not automatic prevention of spam calls. Calls that AT&T categorizes as “fraud” will not ring your phone, but calls categorized as “spam” will. will do your phone without warning.
Fraud calls, by nature, are those in which AT&T suspects the caller is trying to defraud the user. By contrast, “spam calls are calls that a customer may consider to be a nuisance, but that is subjective to each customer,” AT&T told us. AT&T’s Call Protection website further states that “Suspicious spam may include service messages and/or other unauthorized calls.” AT&T said it identifies fraudulent and spam calls “through data analytics and network congestion, as well as reports from customers.”
There are two ways for AT&T customers to block those spam calls. The first method is scary but free, and the second method is $4 a month but automatically sends spam calls to voicemail.
A free way is to create a personal block list using the basic version of AT&T’s Call Protection service. But that requires adding the unwanted numbers manually. Both The iPhones we had Android phones has built-in call blocking features that work independently of your carrier anyway.
For $4 a month, the Premium version of AT&T Call Protection adds “Custom Call Controls,” an option that automatically sends spam calls to voicemail. Call Protection Plus includes Caller ID Enhancement that identifies the caller’s name and location.
The FCC voted in June not to require carriers to offer free call blocking, although Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has urged several Republicans to enact a free robocall ban.
AT&T says it will continue to offer the Call Protect Plus-based service and isn’t promising any changes that will move spam blocking into the free tier. “The Call Protection service will still be offered, however we will have more to share in the coming months,” AT&T told us.