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Verizon to unveil free robocall-blocking, spam-flagging tools as soon as this week

How to respond if you receive a robocall

Americans received an estimated 29.3 billion in unwanted telemarketing calls in 2016, according to a YouMail Robocall Index released this week. The Federal Trade Commission's Kati Daffin explains how to avoid these unwanted calls.
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Americans received an estimated 29.3 billion in unwanted telemarketing calls in 2016, according to a YouMail Robocall Index released this week. The Federal Trade Commission's Kati Daffin explains how to avoid these unwanted calls.

The largest wireless provider in the United States is expected to reveal new tools as early as this week to help frustrated cell phone users block robocalls and identify spam.

Forbes reported on Sunday that Verizon is preparing to roll out the free app at the end of March in a move designed “to combat the growing plague of spam calls.”

“In 2019, pretty much everyone is on a robocaller’s speed-dial list,” Forbes’ Brooke Crothers wrote. “That often means several spam calls per day.”

The free features would help customers who use smartphones like iPhones and Androids, and a Verizon spokesman confirmed the new tools could be revealed as soon as this week, USA Today reported on Tuesday.

“That is our intention,” said Richard Young, director of corporate communications at Verizon, according to USA Today. “We could have a formal announcement by the end of the week.”

Verizon currently offers a paid app to block spam, according to Forbes.

The news of Verizon’s free app comes two months after Verizon said it was planning to offer the tools at no charge beginning in March.

At the time, the company said it had already provided users with free spam screening more than a year earlier, helping phone users identify suspected spam calls and showing “an innovative risk meter that displays the level of spam risk associated with a call,” the company said.

Verizon said that in March, it would improve those anti-spam and robocall measures, in part through the new anti-robocall and anti-spam tools, but also by “continuously updating our algorithm” in response to “nearly 300 million numbers associated with spam and robocalling.”

According to YouMail, a robocall-blocking service, about 4.9 billion robocalls were placed nationwide last month — nearly 15 calls per person. That amounts to 2,000 calls every second, according to YouMail’s data.

And robocalls can target anyone: Earlier this month, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said he fielded a robocall as he spoke onstage at an event in Washington, D.C.

In recent months, the Federal Communications Commission has been pushing phone providers to tackle the robocall issue, the Hill reported.

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