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Verizon begins blocking spoofed ‘local’ robocalls

July 12, 2021, 3:56 PM UTC

Robocalls are out of control—and they’re getting more and more clever in convincing people to answer them. To combat that, Verizon has announced an update to its Call Filter app, which will send suspected spam calls that have your area code and prefix directly to voicemail.

It’s an overdue feature that could save people some headaches, but it could cause some complaints of its own if you get a lot of calls from neighborhood friends.

“The Neighborhood Filter will block all calls that fall within that neighborhood, even legitimate ones, unless the phone number is saved in your contacts,” the company explained in a statement. “If the filter blocks a call you wanted to receive, you can select “Ignore Filter” in the post-call details in the Call Filter app and it will not be blocked again.”

While the pandemic sidelined many businesses, robocallers weren’t one of them—though they did slow down. YouMail, a third-party robocall prevention service, estimates that nearly 46 billion robocalls were made last year, a 22% decrease from 2019 (but still 50% higher than 2017). And they’ve been on the rise this year. Last month saw 4.4 billion robocalls, an average of 148 million per day.  

Verizon’s latest blocking attempt follows efforts the company made in March when it exchanged information with AT&T and T-Mobile to help verify the listed caller ID number is accurate. (Comcast, which leases Verizon’s wireless network to serve its mobile phone customers, was also part of the exchange.) That same month, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it had fined a robocalling telemarketing firm $225 million, the largest fine in the history of the agency.

Despite the efforts, robocallers have proven historically adept at evading attempts to block them.

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