T-Mobile announced free advanced Caller ID for all its customers as a way to help people block scam and improper robocalls on their mobile phones. The carrier is also giving customers a second phone number for each account to give to marketers instead of their personal number to reduce the availability of their primary number to scammers.
Called ScamShield, the new Caller ID service will show whether a call coming in is from a number with a person or business with a verified name. The service also flags and labels likely scam calls, or customers can set their phones to block all such calls in the first place.
The service will work on any phone and all phone plans for new and existing customers, T-Mobile said.
The carrier announced the move as part of its “uncarrier” marketing strategy, the first major competitive strike by T-Mobile since it completed its merger with Sprint, and since Mike Sievert took over in April from former CEO John Legere.
Carriers have previously charged extra for advanced call filtering and second numbers. Verizon for example charges $3 monthly per line for enhanced blocking technology, which also includes a personal robocall blocking list and a spam number lookup. AT&T’s premium call blocking with Caller ID costs $4 per month and also has additional features. T-Mobile itself announced a similar $4 per month service in 2018.
Legere unveiled the original “uncarrier” campaign, including doing away with two-year contracts, in 2013 and then used the tagline on many more changes that helped propel T-Mobile to the top spot for customer additions for every year since. Sievert announced a free service offer only for first responders as an “uncarrier” move in May.
Despite increasingly aggressive measures by the industry over the past few years to reduce robo and scam calls, the problem remains acute. T-Mobile said scammers make 58 billion robocalls a year.
So also on Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission changed its rules to make it easier for the carriers to block robocalls. The agency will allow carriers to be free from liability for unintended or inadvertent blocking of wanted calls when they adopt “reasonable analytics” to stop scam calls.
Shares of T-Mobile, which were up 32% already in 2020 before the announcement, lost 1% in midday trading on Thursday.
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