In June, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that carriers could block robocalls for their customers by default — without requiring the customers opt in first. Now, AT&T is following through on the ruling, enabling its Call Protect service by default for new and existing lines. New customers will automatically have Call Protect enabled going forward, and existing customers will have it enabled “in the coming months.”
AT&T’s Call Protect service does three things: it detects and blocks fraudulent calls entirely, flags telemarketers and spam calls as “Suspected Spam” when the phone rings, and allows you to maintain a personal block list to specifically block individual numbers.
The service has been around (and available for free) for postpaid AT&T customers for a while now, but the catch has been that you’d have to download an app and actively enable it on your account. Now, thanks to the new FCC’s ruling, AT&T can activate it for you, although you can still manually activate it if you already have AT&T and don’t want to wait. For those who’d rather receive all of their calls, unfiltered, AT&T will still allow users to opt out of Call Protect like before; it’s only the default behavior that’s changing.
AT&T is the first major US carrier to enable free call blocking for all of its customers in the wake of the FCC ruling. T-Mobile offers similar features, but only its ScamID service is enabled by default. T-Mobile customers still have to enable its Scam Block feature manually, and the Name ID service that identifies numbers still costs extra. Similarly, Verizon’s Call Filter service needs to be enabled manually, even for the free version, while Sprint’s Premium Caller ID service costs extra and likely won’t be enabled for free anytime soon.