Verizon Offers Free Version of Robocall Filter App

Annoyed by all those random calls? Help is available

One, after another, after another. The calls just seem to keep coming.

Not the ones from friends and family. Not the appointment reminder or the pizza guy. The ones you hesitate to answer—that unrelenting stream of calls from strange numbers and odd locations with the pre-recorded sales pitch that spam your smartphone almost daily.

Take our survey! Extended warranty! Caribbean cruise! Those dreaded robocalls. When will the irritation end?

Well, finally, there is some relief available in the form of a free download.

Wireless carriers have started rolling out free tools and features to stop the flow of robocalls and spam to smartphones.

Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless provider, recently released a free version of its Call Filter app for Android and iPhones. The free version offers spam detection, call filtering and number reporting. For $2.99, the premium version offers the same features, plus contact details, the ability to make personal spam and block lists, a spam lookup feature and the ability to block future spam callers by risk level.

The app takes advantage of new verification technology called SHAKEN/STIR. This new protocol reviews incoming calls and alters customers to spoofed calls. Third-party apps to block robocalls already are available, but tools like Call Filter signal that wireless companies are reacting to the hang up among customers.

Robocalls are bombarding wireless customers with ever-increasing frequency. Americans got more than 26 billion unwanted robocalls in 2018, according to a Washington Post article. In June of that year alone, 4.5 billion robocalls were made—or 18 per person. Verizon had identified more than 300 million numbers linked to spam and robocalls.

Shake it up
Another major wireless company, T-Mobile, is partnering with Comcast to use SHAKEN/STIR for the same purpose. In an article in the Verge, it was announced that the two companies will deploy the technology to deflect robocalls from certain devices. The tech will actively authenticate calls made between the two networks on a handful of devices—LG and Samsung for now, with more in the coming weeks and months.

SHAKEN/STIR verifies legitimate calls by using digital certificates that determine from where a call is being placed. If a real caller is identified, T-Mobile will display Caller Verified in the Caller ID, the article reports. T-Mobile began verifying some calls within its network in January, and this partnership will extend the service to calls between T-Mobile customers Comcast’s home phone customers.

Some robocalls have a legitimate purpose, such as when a company notifies you when a product will be delivered, or your bank alerting you to account activity, or a clinic reminding you about an appointment. The challenge for wireless companies and regulators, though, is stemming the tide of the millions of illegal calls—the random, unsolicited and unwanted calls placed by auto dialers to random numbers without prior consent.

The hope—for the average smartphone user—is that these new technologies are a step forward in keeping at least some of the annoyance of robocalls away.

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