Verizon offers three levels of call labeling ans call blocking. First, all Verizon Wireless subscribers can get basic spam alerts and calling number information on their phone. These do not require the Verizon Call Filter app as they use network-based technology to provide spam alerts and calling number information to subscribers.
The next level of call blocking requires the free Verizon Call Filter app. It comes preloaded by Verizon on all eligible Android devices, iPhone users can download it from the App Store. Subscribers are encouraged to get the app through a variety of marketing messages, push notifications, etc. so subscriber awareness of the Call Filter app is rising. The Call Filter app allows postpaid subscribers to turn on call blocking based on the risk assessment of the calling number.
Finally, Verizon Call Filter Plus is available for $2.99 per month. This premium version of Verizon’s call labeling and call blocking app offers more call blocking capabilities and displays the Caller’s Name.
All existing postpaid Verizon subscribers with a compatible device have been automatically enrolled in Call Filter and can block calls labeled as High Risk for free if they activate Call Filter. New postpaid subscribers with compatible devices are automatically enrolled in a free 10-day trial of Verizon Call Filter Plus. At the end of the trial subscribers may choose to keep Verizon Call Filter Plus, downgrade to the free Call Filter basic service or they can remove the Call Filter service altogether.
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|Call Filter Basic||Call Filter Plus|
• Call Filter Plus also Allows Users to Set Blocking for Medium Risk & Low Risk Calling Numbers
• Call Labels include: Robo Caller, Potential Spam or Potential Fraud
• Call Filter Apps provided to Verizon by TNS Cequint
Verizon customers who are NOT eligible to use the Verizon Call Filter app include Verizon Prepaid subscribers, Bring Your Own Device subscribers, NumberShare subscribers and Verizon subscribers with non-smartphone devices. On average 5% of mobile subscribers have a non-smartphone device, so this restriction prevents the most Verizon subscribers from using the Call Filter app. The prepaid restriction eliminates over 4.6M Verizon subscribers from using the Call Filter call blocking capabilities. Verizon was losing prepaid users at the end of 2018 but has since seen better results adding prepaid users after updating their portfolio of prepaid plans. In 3Q2019, Verizon reported adding 444,000 prepaid subscribers representing 41.9% of all new subscribers that quarter. Prepaid users are free to download other call blocking apps from either the Google Play Store or from the Apple App store – but they cannot use Verizon’s Call Filter app.
The Call Filter app does inbound call labeling in two ways. First, the app provides a risk meter that categorizes and labels the calling number as a High, Medium or Low risk caller. These risk categories are defined as:
• Potential Fraud. This is an indication the caller is probably spoofing their phone number
• Potential Spam. This is an indication the caller might be spoofing their phone number
• Low Risk. This is an indication the call may be from an Unwanted Caller – but there is a low risk of the call being a scam
Calls not deemed to be a risk or those found in the subscriber’s contact list are presented with a ‘Powered by’ logo. If subscribed to the Call Filter Plus version of the app, the call recipient will see an incoming call screen similar to the screenshot to the right.
Any call blocking done by the app is based on the calling number’s risk assessment. High Risk calling numbers not found in the user’s contact list are automatically blocked for free in both versions of the app. Verizon Call Filter Plus also allows the subscriber to block both Medium and High risk calls or they can call block all calling numbers labeled with any risk level, whether it is High, Medium or Low.
Beyond risk labeling, the Call Filter app also provides call labeling for certain types of callers as identified by TNS Cequent, the provider of Verizon’s Call Filter app. Calls may be labeled as Robo Caller, Potential Spam or Potential Fraud. In the Call Filter Plus version of the app, when one of these call labels is presented, the calling number may display briefly, then it may update to UNKNOWN NAME as the displayed Calling Name – depending on the recipients device type. The app provides a blocked call history where details of blocked or labeled calls can be viewed.
Call Blocking itself is done by the Call Filter app at the device level. If one watches closely enough, they can see the incoming call screen flash up the number and the words High Risk Call Blocked. All Blocked calls, regardless of their risk assessment level are sent to voicemail. This means that as an outbound call center, your call from a blocked number will go almost immediately to the subscriber’s voicemail if they have setup their voicemail and if it is not full.
Our testing has confirmed that Verizon the Call Filter app is indeed sending calls that are supposed to be blocked to voicemail to the subscriber’s ACTUAL voicemail service. We have verified that AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile send calls set to the blocking treatment of ‘send to voicemail’ only to AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile voicemail services – even if the subscriber uses some other 3rd party voicemail service like YouVOXX or YouMail. But Verizon got it right! Verizon actually sends blocked calls to whatever voicemail service the subscriber has set up.
We believe this is because all call blocking on the Verizon Call Filter app is done by the Call Filter app at the device level. There is currently no network level call blocking at Verizon. So, the Call Filter app is declining the call from the device itself – which engages the Conditional Call Forwarding the subscriber actually entered. If the Conditional Call Forwarding was updated to point to a 3rd party voicemail service, the call will be directed to that voicemail service provider’s service as advertised.
It is not clear what technique AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are using to for call blocking to voicemail at the network level – but they are ignoring a critical piece of the puzzle – sending the call to the voicemail the subscriber actually uses.
Nice work, Verizon!
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