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AT&T launches branded calls to help filter out spam

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In a move that’s supposed to help people screen spammy phone calls, AT&T announced a new service today that allows businesses to make branded calls. If a business opts in to the program and calls an AT&T wireless customer, its brand name and logo will pop up on the receiving phone.

It’s the latest attempt at stopping the proliferation of robocalls in the US. Complaints about telemarketing calls to the Federal Trade Commission have skyrocketed over the past decade. Now, a major US wireless carrier is partnering up with a credit reporting agency to give businesses a way to differentiate themselves from the deluge of spam.

It’s the latest attempt at stopping the proliferation of robocalls in the US

“Our customers will be able to connect with greater confidence to the brands they may want or need to connect with,” AT&T’s senior vice president of mass markets product management, Erin Scarborough, said in a press release.

To participate, businesses will need to sign up for “TruContact Branded Call Display” through credit reporting agency TransUnion. It uses the STIR/SHAKEN protocol to make sure a number hasn’t been illegally spoofed. It’s the same anti-spoofing protocol that the Federal Communications Commission mandated carriers implement.

The other strange bedfellow in the mix is Neustar, a company that maintains a central database of phone numbers in the US. A BuzzFeed investigation back in 2012 called it “the most important tech company you’ve never heard of” for complying with law enforcement surveillance requests. TransUnion acquired Neustar in 2021.

AT&T customers with an Android phone won’t need to do anything to start receiving branded calls from verified businesses. Each company’s logo will show when it rings someone and will also appear in the call details if the recipient doesn’t pick up in time. However, for other operating systems, customers will need to make sure their phone is either unlocked or that facial recognition is turned on in order to receive the branded calls.

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