T-Mobile Blocks 1 Billion Spam Calls from Reaching Users’ Phones

Image Source: iStock.com/Tak Yeung

Say goodbye to scam robocalls demanding payment or falsely claiming you won that grand prize. T-Mobile has announced that it has already blocked 1 billion scam calls after implementing Scam ID and Block for its users back in July 2017.

With 147 million spam calls per day, T-Mobile set out to rectify the issue, improving its own scam identification features for better consumer experience and protection. Nowadays, setting up robocalls doesn’t take much effort or cost, and scammers do what is known as “neighborhood spoofing” in order to reach a wide range of people through use of a familiar area code to the target phone number.

According to a statement made by T-Mobile, the company is now ready to adhere to FCC’s standards called “SHAKEN/STIR” – “SHAKEN” standing for Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs and “STIR” meaning Secure Telephony Identity Revisited. FCC’s new compliance demands require phone companies to use such standards in order to make certain incoming phone calls are legitimate, rather than a number hijacked as part of a neighborhood spoofing attempt.

T-Mobile has partnered with First Orion to detect and put a stop to scam calls. First Orion reported that almost 50 percent of calls in 2019 will be illegitimate. Last year’s 3.7 percent of scam calls jumped to a whopping 29.2 percent for 2018, and the number is still expected to rise.

As T-Mobile CEO John Legere explains, “This is an industrywide issue. When the other guys join us in adopting [FCC] standards, every consumer will be even better protected.”

Ajit Pai – the current FCC Chairman – has already notified AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Google, Comcast, and others to implement their standards for call authentication by next year.

To check out T-Mobile’s scam protection resource page, you can click here.

T-Mobile Has Revealed Data Breach of 2 million Customers

The company says that passwords may have also been revealed, only through an encrypted form not [compromised].

In a statement to consumers on Thursday evening, T-Mobile announced a new data breach that allowed hackers to access more than 2 million people’s personal information such as their name, number, address, accounting number, and account type. Credit card information was not accessed during the breach. T-Mobile’s representative spoke out to Motherboard to explain how “[a]round 3 percent of [the company’s] 77 million customers…may have been affected” (Sean Keane, CNET). A text message was sent to all customers affected by the breach.

It was later discovered that “encrypted passwords” were also exposed in the data breach, as explained by a spokesperson from T-Mobile.John Legere T-Mobile’s CEO mentioned in a tweet that “it’s always a good idea to regularly change account passwords.”

As this article from CNET explains:

        “The company says that hackers couldn’t actually read them — since they were encrypted — but Motherboard says that a pair of security researchers believe T-Mobile used the MD5 algorithm to protect them, a protection scheme whose own author declared it “no longer considered safe” back in 2012. However, T-Mobile wouldn’t confirm whether it used MD5 or not.“.

T-Mobile had experienced another cybersecurity issue back in May when researchers noticed that customers’ personal data could easily be retrieved through means of using their phone number. Meanwhile, the company is working to improve its quality of service for its customers.

The original article from CNET (as referenced in this post) can be found here.


T-Mobile Gets Rid of Contracts

T-Mobile has ditched the 2-year contract model to give consumers a “Simple Choice.” Their new plans all offer monthly unlimited talk, text and data. With the individual plan starting at just $50 a month. This sounds like a steal, but before you sign up, lets break down all the costs and the limitations of T-Mobile’s new plans.

  • Unlimited Data
    All of T-Mobile’s plans have unlimited data; however, the base plans only allow up to 500MB of that data through their 4G network. If you go past that amount, the speed will decrease significantly, and could even decrease to as slow as 2G. If you would like 2GB of data a month at 4G speeds, you will need to add an extra $10 a month per line.
  • 4G Coverage
    T-Mobile’s new 4G network is only available in major U.S. cities. Check your coverage to make sure reception isn’t spotty at home and at work. The map on their site shows 4G and 3G coverage. So while the green areas may have decent reception, these areas could have 3G but not 4G coverage. Ask around and see if your friends and family with T-Mobile have anything to say about data speeds in your area.
  • Phones Not Included
    The big catch with these new plans is that they don’t include payments for the device you will be using. Instead of the traditional subsidized system where part of your payments on your new phone are bundled with service, payments on your phone will vary based on the total cost of the phone split into 24 months of payments with 0% financing. For example, monthly payments on a BlackBerry Z10 are $18 for two years with $99 down at signing. Those with approved credit can get their phones for $0 down, and higher monthly payments.

If you have your own phone that you would like to bring over to T-Mobile, you would first have to pay fees to your current provider for cancelling your contract, but this might be worth it if you would like to keep your current phone for the next two years or more. This way you would benefit from lower service payments over time and no longer need to worry about paying extra for your phone every month.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere

So is all of this really that “simple”?

No. It is actually much more confusing because of the way we are wired to compare service plans, but if you’re the type who doesn’t need a new phone every two years, is willing to weight the pros and cons, and are able to do a little math, you might be able to save some money.