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Google has a new feature that fights Macau Scams

Google has introduced Verified Calls, a new feature for its Phone app that shows Android users a caller’s name, logo, reason for calling and verified badge to indicate it has been authenticated by the tech giant. The feature is said to help protect people from spam and scam calls.

Verified Calls is set to be available on Android devices preloaded with the Google Phone app, this includes Pixel and Android One devices. At launch, the feature is also set to work on a number of non-Pixel devices running on Android Pie and higher, including flagship devices from Samsung and LG. The company said it intends to roll the app out to even more Android devices.

The feature works similarly to Google’s Call Screen feature on its Pixel devices, which uses the Google Assistant to pick up a call, asks who is calling and why. However, Call Screen is only available in select countries such as the U.S. and Canada whereas Google says that Verified Calls will be more widely available.

So how does Verified Calls work? First, a business needs to sign up as one of Google’s partners to have their calls verified. When that business wants to call a customer, it will send its number, customer’s phone number and call reason to Google’s server.

Once this is done, the information will be sent to the recipient’s Google Phone app that compares the incoming call information with the information the search giant received from the business. 

Only when the two sets of numbers are matched will the Phone app show the call as “Verified”. The user can then choose to answer or reject the call. Google claims that the customer’s phone number and call reason are deleted “within minutes” after verification to protect their privacy.

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According to a pilot test Google conducted, it found that this new method of sharing verified business information with users did increase the chances of someone answering a call though the search giant did not share specific results. The tech giant also likened Verified Calls to its existing Verified SMS system for text messages that helps detect and prevent spam messages. The Mountain View-based company claims its text message system improved customer’s trust in participating brands and improved their likelihood to be satisfied and purchase.

Google says the Verified Calls feature will be rolling out in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Spain and India today though it plans to add more countries over time. We have reached out to Google Malaysia to confirm whether Verified Calls will eventually be available in Malaysia. We will update this article once we hear back from them. For more information visit Google’s Verified Calls website.

This new feature will no doubt prove useful in protecting users from becoming phone scam victims such as the case when a 90-year-old woman was cheated of RM3.83 millions by assailants claiming to be from Pos Malaysia. Scam syndicates also often impersonate banks or financial institutions to trick users to provide their personal details and One Time Password.

Following Malaysia’s reopening after months COVID-19 restrictions, the number of scam cases have spiked in the first six months of the year, up to 14,050 compared to 12,462 last year. The police advise all Malaysians to not simply share their personal details online and beware of third party apps that they download on their phones or website.

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