By Gavin Quinn, Chief Strategy Officer at 360 Privacy
Spam calls are just one of the lucrative methods that criminals use to victimize people every day. Retailers and financial institutions have entire departments managing cases of fraud every day, and many of the successful crimes they battle start with spam calls.
Can you stop spam calls?
Spam calls are hard to filter for and keep up with, but there are a few tools out there that limit how many get through to your device. The problem is like that of email phishing attacks; there are just so many potential emails addresses that it is hard to be proactive with the protection. In most cases, someone must first be a victim and then report it for a lot of the available protections to be effective.
In many ways, wireless carriers, such as Verizon and AT&T, are best suited for providing the most effective protection tools because they own the networks. The customers of these companies have long asked for an answer for the spam call issue, and with the amassing cost of running larger and larger fraud departments, both companies have released effective tools against these types of attacks.
Comparing AT&T ActiveArmor and Verizon Call Filter
AT&T ActiveArmorSM Review
What is it? AT&T ActiveArmor combines baked-in, patented security technology that proactively finds and stops threats, round-the-clock protection and other security apps and solutions. These elements work together to protect the devices and data of the company’s fiber, internet and wireless customers.
Figure 1. https://www.att.com/security/
What does it cost? The basic plan is free for AT&T wireless customers. “Advanced mobile security” is $3.99/month. Note that for certain wireless plans, AT&T customers can get the paid version at no cost; see att.com for details.
AT&T’s ActiveArmor automatically blocks calls in the network without requiring any action from the phone’s user, which is as easy as it gets for users. The app is easy to download and set up in minutes, and overall is a lightweight but effective fraud prevention aid.
One nice feature called out by AT&T is the “block all texts from email” feature. This feature prevents spam texts originated from email addresses, a common tactic by criminals that allows them to mass text easier. This feature from AT&T would block all these threat attempts before you even see them.
For a free tool, AT&T ActiveArmor is a must for any AT&T customer.
Verizon Call Filter Review
What is it? Call Filter checks the numbers of incoming callers and notifies customers if the calls might be robocalls, spam or otherwise fraudulent. Customers might still be able to use Call Filter through My Verizon even if their device doesn't work with the Call Filter app.
Figure 2. https://www.verizon.com/solutions-and-services/call-filter/
What does it cost? The basic version is free for Verizon customers with compatible devices; Call Filter Plus is $3.99/month.
Verizon’s version of the free spam call protection is on par with AT&T in terms of features. One small difference between the two is that Verizon does not allow a personal block list in the free version, whereas AT&T does. This is a minor note because calls can be blocked via the phone and carrier directly, not requiring these apps. The bigger difference between the two lies within the paid versions of these tools, where it appears AT&T has more value with providing a VPN and dark web monitoring.
· Both carriers offer a free version that everyone should be using
· Both offer a paid version, which doesn’t appear to improve protection against spam calls specifically but instead introduces other digital security protection
· Neither security tools guarantee all spam will be filtered
Should you use these tools? Yes, I highly recommend using the free versions of these security tools, depending on which network you use. While they do not stop all spam calls, they provide an added layer to your digital security posture.