T-Mobile said Thursday it is once again moving to tackle robocalls by scammers, repackaging several features it’s had in place for a while as a program it’s calling Scam Shield. It includes free caller ID and call blocking, free enhanced caller ID to let people know when a number calling is verified, and a free second “proxy” number to filter out scam calls from coming to personal phone lines.
The proxy number can be shared among members on a family plan. Customers can also change their phone numbers for free if they’ve become inundated with spam calls. Scam Shield will be available to all T-Mobile, Metro, and Sprint customers. The new protections can be activated via a free Scam Shield app which will be available July 24th.
Former Sprint customers and existing T-Mobile customers who have been paying a monthly fee for caller ID will now get it for free. The caller ID displays a “scam likely” warning when a suspected scam call is incoming.
T-Mobile claims it’s been a leader in rolling out the inter-network SHAKEN/STIR system that can verify that incoming calls are from actual people instead of robots. But the company’s CEO Mike Sievert said that customers will have to put in a bit of effort with the Scam Shield app if they want to get the most protection from the relentless barrage of spam calls we all continue to get.
Sievert said on a webcast announcing the program that fighting scam calls is “an all out arms race. As long as there’s money to be had, scammers will keep inventing new ways to target you, and we will invent new ways to stop them.” He added that the program, which includes features the company has had in place for a while, is a “throwdown” to T-Mobile’s competitors, with a goal of putting STIR/SHAKEN in the limelight so the industry takes it more seriously.
According to T-Mobile, scams and unwanted robocalls are the top complaint to the Federal Communications Commission costing Americans more than $1 billion a year. And if people aren’t able to screen their calls, they may miss calls from contact tracers who are helping with efforts to track the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The company also said on the call that it’s ahead of its schedule on rolling out 5G implementation.