What you need to know

  • AT&T will turn on call blocking by default for new and existing subscribers.
  • Call Protect will detect fraudulent calls, flag telemarketers, and let users block individual numbers.
  • New customers get Call Protect now, while existing customers get it "in the coming months."

Spam calls have become a plague of the mobile industry. Luckily, AT&T is doing something about it following a ruling by the FCC that allows carriers to block robocalls by default.

Going forward, AT&T's Call Protect will automatically block spam calls for all new and existing lines. If you're a new AT&T subscriber, there's no need to do anything; if a spam call comes in, your device will warn you.

(Side note: as I was writing this post, I got a call that AT&T marked as a suspected fraud.)

"The FCC has been a tremendous partner in the war on robocalls," said Joan Marsh, executive vice president of regulatory & state external affairs for AT&T Communications. "The Commission's recent action builds on a years-long effort to enable broader adoption of call-blocking tools and allow providers to better protect their customers and networks. AT&T remains committed to working with our government and industry partners in the ongoing battle against unwanted and illegal robocalls."

As The Verge notes, AT&T customers could already use Call Protect, but before they had to download an app and activate the feature. But now the service is turned on by default.

Call Protect can detect and block fraudulent calls, flag telemarketers and spam calls, and allow users to block individual numbers.

If you're an existing AT&T customer, Call Protect will be enabled by default "in the coming months." If you don't want to wait, you can enable Call Protect by downloading AT&T Call Protect as an app or turning the feature on in your account settings. You can opt out of Call Protect once it's enabled.

Other carriers like T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint have similar call blocking features, but nothing quite as comprehensive as Call Protect. If you aren't on AT&T but own an iPhone, iOS 13 will introduce call blocking features when it arrives this fall.

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