AT&T said it’s shoring up how it protects customers from spam texts and robocalls by updating its ActiveArmor mobile security app. The app give users more control over their incoming text messages.
The update includes the ability to block email-to-text messages, and, for iPhone users, you can sort your texts into separate folders with customizable titles like Junk, Promotions, and Unknown Sender. The ActiveArmor app also lets users block all suspected spam calls or send any call that’s not one of your contacts directly to voicemail.
Spam and robocalls are a pervasive issue that mobile carriers and government agencies have been battling for decades. The ever-changing nature of technology makes cybercriminal tactics hard to stop entirely. On average, Americans receive about 1.5 billion to 3 billion scam calls every month. In October, senators told Congress that the Federal Communications Commission should be granted more power to deal with robocalls.
AT&T said customer reports and tips are a big part of the mobile carrier’s efforts to curb spam. The company said it has blocked more than one billion spam text messages in July. Since then, AT&T said its customers have reported receiving one-third fewer spam texts.
“Customers started forwarding us much more suspected text spam about a year ago when the process became easier on most devices. This has helped us investigate and block similar spam messages and even take down malicious websites,” Matt Bailey, AT&T’s assistant vice president of product management and development said in a statement.
Your phone might include a feature, or an app like ActiveArmor, that can detect suspected spam calls — which is a great first line of defense. There are also ways to keep yourself safe from scams by knowing what to look out for.
It’s also beneficial to familiarize yourself with phishing scams. Bad actors will use email or text messages with cleverly worded requests designed to get you to respond with your personal information. These messages often try to convince you that your payment method failed, or your account is compromised — an ask you to click a link to fix it. Do not click the link — even if it sounds urgent.
Scammers use manipulation tactics that prey on your emotions and have gotten increasingly good at it over the years. Cybercriminals have even begun to target cord cutters by posting fake customer service phone numbers online. Once someone calls the fake number, the scammers try to charge them for customer service or get them to sign up for services they don’t need.
If you’re uncertain about the status of your account or need to make changes — check your account through the service’s website.
If you think you’ve been targeted by a scam, you can report it to the FCC or file an informal complaint.