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Putting Scammers in Their Place

Phone feature flags calls you might not want to answer

T-Mobile's scam alert feature


Scammers often let their fingers do the stalking, especially when it comes to older Americans. In an effort to help combat the problem, T-Mobile has rolled out two new features designed to keep phone scammers at bay.

One is called Scam ID, a technology that automatically lets you know directly on your screen whenever an incoming call is likely to be from a scammer. The other is Scam Block, which allows you to stop likely scam calls from coming in at all.

“Scam ID and Scam Block are powered by patent-pending technology built right into the Un-carrier’s advanced network,” T-Mobile said in a press release, “which also means scam blocking works on every single phone on T-Mobile’s network." (T-Mobile's nickname is the "Un-carrier.")

To activate these features, T-Mobile users should dial the following codes from their smartphone:

#ONI# (#664#): Enables Scam ID

#ONB# (#662#): Enables Scam Block

#OFB# (#632#): Disables Scam Block

#STS# (#787#): Checks if Scam Block is enabled

“Every year, three out of four people in the U.S. get at least one scam call — and fraudsters cheat consumers out of more than half a billion dollars per year! It’s insane — so we had to do something to protect our customers,” said Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s chief technology officer, in a press release.

The Federal Communications Commission has been urging phone companies for years to offer scam filtering. The FCC passed a rule change in 2015 that cleared the way for companies to start rolling out blocking features.

In December, AT&T launched a service that allows its customers to download the company’s free Call Protect app, which displays a warning on the screen when a suspicious call is coming in. Other features on the app include Fraud Blocking, which automatically stops calls from suspicious sources, and Temporary Call Block, which allows you to manually block calls from unwanted numbers for 30 days.

If Call Protect accidentally blocks a call you wanted, you can go to the mobile app and white-list the number.

When it comes to iOS and Android, there are also free apps available that help ward off calls from scammers. Of course, if you don’t recognize a number, it’s never a good idea to answer the call.

Finally, always remember to protect your smartphone with a strong PIN and to never use it to store credit card and account login information, or anything else that con artists might be after.

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