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T-Mobile Kicks Off Industry Robocall War With Network-Level Blocking and ID Tools ( 76

T-Mobile is among the first U.S. telecom companies to announce plans to thwart pesky robocallers. From a report on VentureBeat: The move represents part of an industry-wide Robocall Strike Force set up by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year to combat the 2 billion-plus automated calls U.S. consumers deal with each month. Other key members of the group include Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Verizon. T-Mobile's announcement comes 24 hours after the FCC voted to approve a new rule that would allow telecom companies to block robocallers who use fake caller ID numbers to conceal their true location and identity. From a report on WashingtonPost: The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday proposed new rules (PDF) that would allow phone companies to target and block robo-calls coming from what appear to be illegitimate or unassigned phone numbers. The rules could help cut down on the roughly 2.4 billion automated calls that go out each month -- many of them fraudulent, according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "Robo-calls are the No. 1 consumer complaint to the FCC from members of the American public," he said, vowing to halt people who, in some cases, pretend to be tax officials demanding payments from consumers, or, in other cases, ask leading questions that prompt consumers to give up personal information as part of an identity theft scam.
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T-Mobile Kicks Off Industry Robocall War With Network-Level Blocking and ID Tools

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  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @04:09PM (#54104835)

    Just provide a feature to automatically send to voice mail or block altogether calls from numbers not in your contacts.

    Kinda like a White List.

    • it';s called block mode on android. turn it on and nothing but the people in your contact list will ring.
      • by sycodon ( 149926 )

        On my Droid Turbo, it appears I have to add each number to a a black list.

        I'd like a White list.

        But then I guess this has nothing to do with T-Mobil.

    • True story: I already have a feature to indicate that a call was a Robo Call. When this new feature was introduced on Android, I began using it. Each time I flagged a call as a Robo Call, I had a sense of satisfaction. Before long, Robo Calls would show up on a red screen, so I could choose not to answer. Then they stopped completely. Android 7.1.1
    • by green1 ( 322787 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @04:32PM (#54104983)

      That't technically easy, but socially difficult.

      It may work well for some people, but it doesn't work for many others. My phone is often used as the emergency contact number for events that I volunteer on, as a result I need to receive calls from many different numbers that are unknown to me ahead of time. Not answering isn't really an option, and I won't get a list ahead of time that I can program in to a whitelist of the hundreds of people that will be on or near the event.

      Other people use their phones for their business, if you don't answer when a customer phones, they'll phone someone else, and while that may make your business easier, it also makes it quite unprofitable.

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      I like the idea of moving as much decision making as possible to the phone, but I don't want a whitelist. That would require me to make the effort to whitelist people, plus having the prescient power of anticipating which strangers I want to hear from (e.g. whoever found my dog and called the number on her collar). I'm ok with getting a call from a stranger, as long as their "return address" isn't forged. If the return address is correct, and they are annoying, I can blacklist 'em. Allowing strangers to cal

  • What if RoboCall industry creates jobs? .. Could that be a justification to permit robocalls?

    "With Republicans now in charge across the government, AT&T and Comcast are also poised to benefit from further deregulation. Since the presidential election, the companies have pushed the new Republican-led F.C.C., lawmakers and the White House to roll back net neutrality, the requirement that broadband providers give equal access to all content on the internet, saying the rules hamper their ability to invest in new networks []and jobs."

    • The RoboCall industry needs to refocus its efforts. The Trump administration has expressed that one of its policy goals is to put coal miners back to work. If there are not enough coal mining opportunities available, then put the RoboCall industry onto an isolated telecommunications system such that they can only call each other.

      Please hold to speak to an ignorant robot.
      Press zero to be routed to a call center in a third world country.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I've long suspected that the fact that we're where we are now with rampant robocalls, spam and (still!) huge volumes of junk paper mail that literally nobodylikes is because business interests want it that way.

      Further, I think it's somehow ingrained in the hucksterism of American culture, this notion that all you really need is a good sales pitch and anyone who gets in the way of delivering one is somehow anti-business.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @04:17PM (#54104873) Journal
    It is good. I wish other companies and landline phone companies will follow suite.

    Robo calls are killing the phone industry. People stop using phones and turn them off due to this nuisance

    • by dknj ( 441802 )

      maybe, i just worry how they go about doing it and what options the little person has if they get caught in the trap. my business is small, we only have 5 lines. i don't need to spend $500/month on phone service. my voip service costs me $24-$29/month and it allows me to set our outbound phone numbers to our sales people's personal cell phones. this measure, to me, sounds like my company will be swept up in the mess and not given two shits meaning i'm going to have to spend $500/mo with some major provi

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        I'd think if you have a legit number then it's not a problem. I get calls to the tune of 10 or 15 a day now on my cell from fake numbers. I'm one of those people that only talks to people I know so I never answer, in fact I'm sending them all to voice mail now and they don't even ring. Some people though aren't able to do this. I don't care if the shit asses call me 10 million times a day as I never see it except in the log or if they leave a message which 1 in 50 might do.

      • You may not like what I say here, but don't blame me. Blame the people who abused the phone system.

        All these years you were getting 6000$ a year worth of phone services for 288$. Were you passing it on to customers or were you pocketing it as profit? The small business people have developed a sense of entitlement. Why everyone must act deferential and accommodate small business people. No body owes you a living, Nobody owes you a profit. I don't have to put up with robocalls so that you can make 6000$ mo

  • All good reasons to not have a phone number at all.

  • by b0bby ( 201198 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @04:25PM (#54104927)

    I get at least 2-3 calls a day now from unknown numbers. A few months ago it was all out of state, but now they seem to be using local numbers. I never pick them up, and they never leave a message, but it's pretty annoying.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hojo ( 94118 )

      I no longer answer the phone, ever, unless I know who is calling.

      It really works.

      I also add any "unknown number" to a new contact that I call e.g. Detroit Blocked, or NYC Blocked, or Louisiana Blocked (whatever google says is the caller), then "route to voicemail" all calls from that number. Plus I disabled voicemail, so it's really just a new version of the old killfile. :-)

      • So, just out of curiosity, what happens when someone who legitimately calls you from an unknown/new number needs to get in touch with you but you won't answer the phone, and they can't leave you a voicemail so you can call them back?

        • Not the OP, but if an unknown number immediately calls me a second time I'll pick up. So they can just try again. Obviously the spam callers could do that too, but so far they haven't.

          Also, I'm not sure why they wouldn't be able to leave me a voicemail.

  • AT&T already there (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stevel ( 64802 ) * on Friday March 24, 2017 @04:31PM (#54104979) Homepage

    AT&T has had their Call Protect feature for a few months now, including telemarketer identification and network-level fraudulent call blocking. I use it and it works very well.

  • Isn't this what free apps like HiYa and TrueCaller do? Why spend money on something that is already solved?

    • Isn't this what free apps like HiYa and TrueCaller do?

      With apps like that, you're still getting the robocalls, you just don't see them. The carrier still has to carry them. They take up bandwidth on the trunks and frequency allocation on the cell towers. The ones that originate as VOIP sessions from some boiler room in Bangalore clog up valuable spectrum on transatlantic cables. The earlier in the process they can be blocked, the better.

      • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

        Isn't this what free apps like HiYa and TrueCaller do?

        With apps like that, you're still getting the robocalls, you just don't see them. The carrier still has to carry them. They take up bandwidth on the trunks and frequency allocation on the cell towers. The ones that originate as VOIP sessions from some boiler room in Bangalore clog up valuable spectrum on transatlantic cables. The earlier in the process they can be blocked, the better.

        Those are all still problems, you are right.

        But, they are now the CARRIERS's problem, not mine.

        It's their problem to fix anyway, so that's right where the pain should be to get the issues resolved.

  • I guess most people outside the USA are now aware that the USA is unique in that pay for calls made to you. As an outsider you may think it is just a simple case of double dipping, but actually it is a lot worse. I purchased a prepaid SIM on a trip to the USA with enough credit to get me thru a week there. When I have done this in other counties it has worked out well however in the USA it was a waste of money. I was aware of the need to register the number with their do not call service but for a short
    • What prepaid SIM were you using that you couldn't register it with Google Voice? Sorry but I'm doubtful of your claim. I've never had this problem with *any* number, including ones tied to virtual phone apps like Talkatone, nor have I heard of anyone having this problem.
      • by ukoda ( 537183 )
        From memory it was T-Mobile but it was about 2 years back and the issue appeared to be because I had chosen the cheapest option they offered. I made the same assumption as you, until I couldn't register it. Things may have changed since then but I clearly remember my surprise that I couldn't use Google Voice because I walked into the wrong store for my SIM. My warning still stands, check before you buy a SIM.
        • My best guess is that the "previous owner" of your number (of the SIM) had registered it to Google Voice. They cancelled/lost their service and the number was freed up, which you unluckily chose. But because GV had it registered elsewhere, it didn't allow you to register it (you can't have 1 number connected to 2 different GV accounts).

          If it wasn't that then I'd say it had something to do with your Google account, maybe being connected on VPN or maybe just that the account was initially registered overse
      • It sounds like a stretch, or this person was just extremely unlucky in which recycled phone number they received. It sounds like he may have been using some ultra-cheap MVNO based on the Google Voice limitation.

        I've never seen a USA-based number that couldn't be registered with GV, nor have I ever gotten a number that upon receiving a few unwanted calls (not robocalls, but usually bill collectors, banks, and other services the previous owner of the number signed up for) I couldn't just call up and get the c

    • The first time I need to make a call I found all my credit had been consumed by unwanted incoming telemarketing calls.

      You don't pay unless you answer the calls. Don't answer unknown calls. Let them go to voice mail. No robocallers leave messages any more.

  • I wonder how long until we have deliberately gated telecommunications, where you pay extra and your phone number is "protected" -- no incoming calls from poor countries, poor neighborhoods, hell, they could probably reference some kind of database profile that estimates the socio-economic status of the caller and if it falls below your preference threshold, they get blocked.

  • It shouldn't be hard to set up a procedure systemwide wherein if you'd like to use a particular number as your outgoing caller ID, you have to verify that you can receive inbound calls TO that number first.

"Ninety percent of baseball is half mental." -- Yogi Berra