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New Tools to Stop Robocalls

Your cell-phone service is taking aim at spammers and spoofers.

If it seems as if you’re getting more-frequent robocalls, you’re right. Calls from robots are on track to make up nearly half of all calls in the U.S. by early 2019, according to phone security company First Orion.

But help may be on the way. Next year, many mobile carriers plan to start rolling out a new line of defense: a kind of caller authentication dubbed Stir/Shaken. The service is designed to cut down on “spoofing”—the trick spammers use to make their calls appear to come from a local number. Once Stir/Shaken is implemented by Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and other mobile companies, phone calls made on their networks will carry a digital key that will make it difficult for spammers to disguise their identities.

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There are plenty of other ways to cut down on the number of robots in your call history. Review options your phone provider offers for rejecting or screening anonymous calls, and consider third-party apps, such as YouMail or Robo-Killer, that automatically reject calls from suspect numbers. These apps aren’t foolproof, but once Stir/Shaken is available, you can expect them to be more effective.

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