Claiming to be the first carrier to implement a solution to the surging problem of scam calls, T-Mobile, the nation’s third-largest wireless operator said Friday that it is rolling out technology that can verify incoming calls are authentic and not from fraudsters.
For now, the technology is only available on one device: the Samsung Galaxy Note9 with the latest software update. T-Mobile customers with the updated Galaxy Note9 will see “Caller Verified” on their device screens when they get incoming calls from other T-Mobile customers.
The scam-call surge has been driven in part by caller ID “spoofing," in which scammers place calls that appear to come from local numbers or legitimate businesses.
T-Mobile is in the middle of a merger with Sprint, the fourth-largest carrier. The $26.5 billion deal would create in a wireless operator with about 100 million subscribers.
U.S. consumers received 4.7 billion robocalls in December, including scam calls and those from legitimate businesses, according to YouMail, a robocall blocking application. That is down from the 5.1 billion robocalls placed in November, but still a sharp increase from the 2.8 billion robocalls made in December 2017.
First Orion, a Arkansas firm that develops call screening technologies for T-Mobile, recently predicted that nearly half of all calls will come from scammers by this year. The company said 9 in 10 scam calls will come from a familiar area code.
T-Mobile announced Thursday it was the first carrier to implement the call authentication system that verifies a call is from the person supposedly making it. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai demanded in November that the phone industry launch the system no later than this year, so consumers can trust their caller IDs again.
T-Mobile said the technology will be available on more smartphones later this year. Once other wireless carriers implement the technology -- called STIR/SHAKEN -- T-Mobile’s “Caller Verified” will work on calls made across networks, the company said.
In response to Pai’s call, several carriers have said that they are in different stages of implementing similar solutions to reduce scam calls.