AT&T promises to automatically block robocalls in 'coming months'

AT&T said Tuesday it will start to automatically block robocalls and alert customers of suspected spam calls for free.

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The company already offers a “Call Protect” service, but customers have to manually opt-in. Now AT&T customers will be automatically enrolled, the company announced.

New customers will have the service automatically and existing customers will have it added to their accounts “over the coming months."

Customers who want to decline the service will be able to opt-out.

AT&T’s announcement comes after the FCC ruled in June that companies would be allowed to offer those kinds of services to customers automatically.

“The FCC has been a tremendous partner in the war on robocalls,” Joan Marsh, executive vice president of regulatory and state external affairs for AT&T Communications, said in a statement.

“The Commission’s recent action builds on a years-long effort to enable broader adoption of call-blocking tools and allow providers to better protect their customers and networks,” Marsh continued. “AT&T remains committed to working with our government and industry partners in the ongoing battle against unwanted and illegal robocalls.”

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AT&T said suspected spam alerts have already been added to some lines, but the blocking service will also be added to those lines automatically.

However, the company also said customers can add the service themselves before that by downloading an app or enrolling through their account settings — which is also where customers can opt out if they choose.

Robocalls have increased as of late. A recent report from First Orion, a company focused on consumer protection against the unwanted calls, found that scam calls jumped to nearly 30 percent of all calls in 2018, up from 3.7 percent the prior year. Robocalls are expected to increase to 44.6 percent of all calls in 2019, the firm projected.

The FCC said 60 percent of the complaints it receives each year are due to robocalls. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said they were working to “stop the scourge of illegal robocalls.”


On Monday, Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang pledged to ban robocalls if he is elected president.

“I just got another robocall – I’d ban them as President,” the businessman and entrepreneur wrote on Twitter. “We have more important things to do and our time is more valuable than to be bombarded with robocalls of no interest to us.”

FOX Business’ Joe Williams and Kathleen Joyce contributed to this report.