Verizon to roll out free robocall spam protection to all customers

Call Filter service to be made available to all wireless and wired customers with compatible phones in March 2019.

Verizon announced today plans to roll out its spam and robocall detection and screening feature to all customers for free.

The feature will be made available to all wireless and wired customers starting with March 2019, Verizon senior vice president of network operations Joe Russo said today.

Named Call Filter, previously Caller Name ID, this is a premium service that Verizon rolled out for $3/month more than a year ago.

Call Filter works by alerting users of incoming robocalls by showing a label that reads "spam" on a smartphone's screen or wired phone's display, when supported. The service also lets users report robocall numbers, which are added to Verizon's database of nearly 300 million phone numbers known to engage in SMS spam and robocalls, to be blocked network-wide.

Rival carriers AT&T and T-Mobile have been offering a free robocall spam protection service already, through their AT&T Call Protect and Scam ID services, respectively. The only US carrier that is not providing a free service is Sprint, which still charges $2.99/month for its Premium Caller ID service.

A recent study placed Verizon's Call Filter robocall detection service above the similar offerings from AT&T and T-Mobile.

The company said it plans to publish more details on how users can sign up for a free Call Filter plan as it gets closer to launch. The only condition, Verizon said, is that customers own a compatible phone that can display the "spam" label.

In its announcement today, Verizon said that the service is not infallible, as many robocallers use a trick known as "caller ID spoofing" to hide their real phone number and bypass most static filters.

Verizon said it's been having a hard time getting to the origin of many robocalls when tracing the spoofed IDs back to its origins, many times reaching a dead-end when an upstream provider "refuses to cooperate."