AT&T provides 3 layers of call labeling and call blocking. The first level is AT&T Call Protect which first launched in 2016. This network-level service requires no app and labels incoming calls according to analytics provided by Hiya, AT&T’s call analytics partner. AT&T Call Protect is available only to AT&T postpaid subscribers. It works on iPhones running iOS 6 and above. AT&T Call Protect also works on Android smartphones that are HD Voice capable and have HD Voice enabled on their account. This means Android users must be connected to AT&T’s 4G LTE network for Call Protect to operate. Despite these stated limitations for Android subscribers, in reality it boils down to AT&T subscribers with an Android phone purchased from AT&T in the last 3 or 4 years will generally support AT&T Call Protect. That would certainly include most AT&T Android subscribers.
In June of 2019, AT&T began automatically enrolling its postpaid subscribers in the Call Protect service. The entire AT&T postpaid subscriber base will be enrolled in the Call Protect service. Subscribers are notified by text message after they have been enrolled by AT&T. The text message encourages them to “Download the Call Protect app to see blocked fraud calls, manage spam, or opt out”. We suspect that many, if not most subscribers will not bother to download the app based on a single text message from their carrier, however they will still be subscribed to the Call Protect service.
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|Call Protect||Call Protect Plus|
• Call Labels for the free version: Spam Risk
• Call labels for the Plus version: Private Call; Account Services; Telemarketer; Survey; Political Call; Nonprofit
• Call Protect app provided by Hiya
Once enrolled, even if the subscriber does not bother to download the Call Protect app, calling numbers deemed to be a Fraud Risk will be blocked and those calling numbers deemed to be a Spam Risk will be labeled on the recipient’s incoming call screen with an incoming call screen similar to the picture on the right.
On Fraud Risk blocked calls, if the consumer has not downloaded the Call Protect app, they will see no incoming call screen, receive no push notification that the call was blocked, and there is no ringing since the call was blocked in the AT&T network prior to being delivered to the consumer’s phone. Also, there is no entry in the phone’s recent call history because no call was delivered to the phone. Unless the consumer has downloaded the Call Protect app, they will have no indication a call was blocked. The caller, on the other hand typically gets a single ring and the call is released.
Call Protect subscribers may opt-out of the service through the My ATT portal, by downloading the Call Protect app and unsubscribing from the service in the app or by calling customer support. After opting out of Call Protect, the subscriber receives no further call labeling or call blocking.
The next level of using the AT&T Call Protect involves downloading the AT&T Call Protect app so the user can manage the network-level Call Protect service that they have been automatically subscribed to. If an AT&T Call Protect subscriber has downloaded the AT&T Call Protect app and they receive a call that is network-blocked by the Call Protect service, the subscriber will receive a push notification that a call has been blocked. They can tap the notification to go to the Blocking tab of the Call Protect app to see more details about the blocked call. Note that the blocked call notification itself does not display the blocked call telephone number. To see the number that was blocked the user must go into the app. The free version of the AT&T Call Protect app also includes a personal blocklist where the user can enter 10-digit numbers to be blocked. Unlike other call blocking apps with personal blacklists, 6-digit and 7-digit call blocking is not permitted.
After downloading the free Call Protect app, subscribers can also change the default Blocking of Fraud Risk calls to Send to Voicemail or to Allow. Interestingly, blocked calls that are Sent to Voicemail actually go to the subscriber’s AT&T voicemail service even if they have subscribed to a third-party voicemail service like YouMail. This means that as an outbound call center, if your number is being blocked with the ‘Send to Voicemail’ treatment, your call will go almost immediately to AT&T’s voicemail service – but the subscriber may or may not be using AT&T’s voicemail. If the AT&T voicemail box is full or not set up (typical conditions when a consumer subscribes to a third-party voicemail service) then the caller will not be able to leave a voicemail.
The premier level of AT&T Call Blocking and Call Labeling is the Call Protect Plus service. By upgrading the Call Protect app to Call Protect Plus for $3.99 per month, consumers enjoy additional call blocking and custom call control including the ability to set their preferred call handling for 6 categories of labeled calls including: Private Calls (i.e. Anonymous, Blocked Caller ID, etc.); Account Services (i.e. Debt Collection); Telemarketers; Surveys; Political Calls; Nonprofit. Any of these call types can be Blocked, Sent to Voicemail or Allowed. The default for each category is “Allow”. Call Protect Plus subscribers also get Reverse Number Lookup so they can look up numbers they don’t recognize.
In addition to these enhanced call blocking options, Call Protect Plus subscribers receive Calling Name display for incoming calls – as long as the calling number has not been labeled with one of the call labeling categories. The Caller Name feature identifies incoming calls by name and location, when available and is only operational if the recipient is in an AT&T HD Voice coverage area. No calling name is provided with the free version of Call Protect.
Today AT&T announced that they have added 3 new capabilities to the both the free version of the AT&T Call Protect app as well as to the AT&T Call Protect Plus app. Here’s what you need to know…
Now calls identified as “Spam Risk” can now be blocked or sent directly to voicemail automatically for no charge. The default setting for Spam Risk calls is Allow. Note that this will still send calls to the subscriber’s AT&T voicemail service even if the subscriber is using a 3rd-party voicemail service and thus never checks their AT&T voice mailbox.
Additionally, calls from callers not found in your contact list be sent to voicemail automatically. The same issue about which voicemail service AT&T sends the blocked call applies here. Also, there is no setting to totally block these Unknown Callers.
Subscribers who turn on the option to send Unknown Callers to Voicemail have their contact list uploaded and stored on Hiya’s cloud servers. Then, when a number is added, deleted, or updated on the subscriber’s contact list it will be updated, on Android devices, every 24 hours and, on iOS devices, every time they open the Call Protect app. Hiya is AT&T’s call analytics partner.
For Apple users, another new feature awaits. Calls can now be blocked using a Siri shortcut. Simply say “Hey Siri, block the last call.” To add it to your personal blocklist. Of course, this means the call does ring through to your device at least one time.
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