T-Mobile (TMUS) wants to make it a little bit harder for scammers to call your cellphone. The carrier on Friday announced that it’s rolling out a new network upgrade that allows it to automatically detect when a scammer tries to call someone and instantly shuts the criminal down.
According to T-Mobile’s vice president of engineering, Grant Castle, the feature will hit the carrier’s network and work across all phones regardless of its operating system or the plan you have. The idea is to cut down on the number of customers hit by scams, as well as clear scammers from the company’s network.
“This isn’t a device solution. It’s not an app. It’s not something you have to load,” Castle said. “This is built into our network. It will provide protection to 100% of our customers.”
By default, the technology will automatically identify a scam call and display “Scam likely” in your phone’s caller ID field. If you want to, and I don’t know why you wouldn’t, you can send a message back to T-Mobile to automatically block that caller forever. That block will then work on T-Mobile’s cellular network, Wi-Fi calling and on roaming calls.
How does it all work? According to Castle, T-Mobile has partnered with a third-party service that catalogues scam numbers around the world. When a call goes out to a T-Mobile caller, the network will route the call through the scammer database. If the number matches that of a known scammer, T-Mobile will kill the call.
T-Mobile admits that technology like this has existed for some time, but noted that it is the first carrier to offer it across its entire network.
In a recent report, the Federal Communications Commission noted that it receives 200,000 such complaints about scam and robocalls each year. Still, that dwarfs the 2.4 billion robocalls the FCC says consumers get each month.
There’s no doubt T-Mobile’s efforts will help consumers in the near term, but criminals are a deceptively crafty bunch. Which means this is far from the end of scammers. Still, we’ll take all the help we can.
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