If you’ve received a call from someone your caller ID identifies as “Scam Likely,” you’re probably using T-Mobile or MetroPCS. Your cellular carrier is warning you that there’s probably a scammer on the line that will attempt to trick you.

Why Your Phone Says “Scam Likely”

RELATED: PSA: If a Company Is Calling You Unsolicited, It's Probably a Scam

T-Mobile and MetroPCS (which is owned by T-Mobile) now offer a “Scam ID” feature that’s turned on by default. Whenever someone calls you, your cellular carrier checks that number against a database of known scam phone numbers. If it matches a reported scammer, the caller’s number is tagged with “Scam Likely” so you can keep your guard up when you answer the call.

This feature is designed to protect against robocalls, tech support scams, IRS impersonation scams, and really any kind of phone call that attempts to defraud you.

The “Scam Likely” tag is applied on the carrier’s end of things, before the call is even sent to your phone. The tag appears on caller ID, so this works with iPhones, Android phones, and everything else. The setup doesn’t require any special software on your phone.

How to Block “Scam Likely” Calls

RELATED: How to Automatically Block Spam Calls on an iPhone

Just like with email spam blockers, this anti-scam feature doesn’t always work perfectly. It’s possible that a legitimate call may get the  “Scam Likely” tag. That’s why your carrier doesn’t just block these calls outright—you still receive them, just in case they’re real. That said, it’s very unlikely a real call will be tagged as a likely scam, so be sure to keep your guard up if someone on the line says they’re from your bank or credit card company.

You can choose to enable the “Scam Block” feature and automatically block incoming calls tagged as Scam Likely, however. To do so, open your phone’s dialer and dial #ONB# (or #662#). Incoming “Scam Likely” calls will be blocked before they ever reach your phone. To disable the Scam Block feature and receive these calls once again, dial #OFB# (or #632#). To check whether Scam Block is on or off, dial #787#.

RELATED: How to Block Spam Calls and Texts in Android, Manually and Automatically

You can also use other tricks to block scammy phone calls. iPhones offer a way to automatically block spammy phone calls and text messages, and Android phones also allow you to block junk phone calls. These tricks work even with other cellular carriers, so anyone with a modern phone can use them. You can also use these tricks even if you’re already using T-Mobile’s “Scam Likely” setup.

Android’s standard dialer also now shows warnings about suspected spam callers, so you may see similar warnings on Android, too, no matter which carrier you use. The wording is just a bit different.

If you don’t want to see the “Scam Likely” tag at all, T-Mobile says you can contact their customer support or go to a retail store and ask them to disable the Scam ID feature. But we don’t see much reason to disable it. Even if it’s occasionally wrong, it’ll give you a heads up before you’re about to answer a call from a known scammer’s phone number.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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