AT&T announced this week that it will begin automatically blocking calls it identifies as spam, instead of the system in place until now in which a customer had to opt in to receive the service.
This follows a ruling in June by the FCC that allowed phone companies to switch from an “opt in” basis to “opt out”, clearing the way for AT&T to roll out this service.
The system automatically blocks calls identified as entirely fraudulent, such as callers pretending to be the IRS demanding money. But telemarketing robocalls that are merely unwanted are only flagged as such and the user has to decide whether to block it or not. For an additional $4 a month, unwanted robocalls can automatically be sent to voicemail.
Studies say that Americans receive billions of unwanted robocalls, often using local area codes to make them harder to detect, and phone companies have begun seeking means of fighting back.
All new AT&T customers will receive the new service immediately, and existing customers will get it rolled out to them in the coming months, and will be notified with a text message when it’s added to their account.