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AT&T Begins Automatic Phone Fraud Protection Service

Carriers are beginning to roll out new tools to help consumers identify and block fraud calls and spam calls. AT&T on Wednesday released a new app known as Call Protect that provides automatic blocking of fraud calls and also can warn users about other potentially unwanted calls.

The new service is available on iOS and Android devices for AT&T customers, and the company said the system relies on intelligence on the network level to identify and block fraud calls. Call Protect is among the first of the carrier-based services designed to detect and prevent fraud calls from reaching consumers. Most of the other apps that provide that kind of service are developed by third parties, but wireless and wireline carriers have been working together in recent months on solutions to address the massive robocall and phone fraud problem.

“Nuisance calls are an industry-wide problem that unfortunately affect many people,” said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president, Device and Network Services Marketing, AT&T. “We’ve listened to our customers and know they want a network that provides tools to proactively assist in blocking nuisance calls. AT&T Call Protect, along with others, will help put customers more in control of the calls they receive.”

AT&T right now is leading a robocall strike force convened by the FCC that is working on a variety of different methods for detecting and blocking fraud calls and other robocalls. One of the approaches involves the use of a do not originate list that would be used to specify numbers that should never be allowed to make calls. The idea is to prevent fraudsters from being able to spoof numbers belonging to the IRS or other legitimate agencies. But that only addresses a subset of the problematic calls.

Many other fraud or unwanted calls come from normal numbers, and though consumers can block individual numbers on their cell phones, that’s only after the calls have gotten through. Systems such as AT&T Call Protect are meant to prevent the calls from ever getting to consumers, reducing the possibility that they will fall victim to a scam.

Other wireless carriers are expected to enable similar anti-fraud services in the near future.

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