is bringing a new call verification feature to its Android Phone app, enabling businesses to confirm their identity and communicate a reason for their call — before the recipient even answers.

The launch comes amid a surge in phone-based scams related to COVID-19. More broadly, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealed that phone calls were the “number one way people reported being contacted by scammers” in 2019. Given the growing awareness around nefarious callers, people are less inclined to answer their phone if they don’t recognize a number, which is where Google’s new Verified Calls feature comes into play.

Companies that regularly make outbound calls to customers can register through any of Google’s partner organizations with access to the Verified Calls API — such as Neustar, Five9, Vonage, and JustCall. Businesses can supply their number, name, and logo, which will appear on the end user’s screen when their phone rings. Companies can also provide a reason for the call, meaning a bank can state that it is checking on a potentially fraudulent transaction and a food delivery company can tell a customer it needs to discuss a problem with an order.

This before (left) and after (right) comparison shows the difference between a typical non-verified call and a verified call:

Above: Google’s new Verified Calls feature (right)

Standalone

The comes preinstalled on many Android phones, though Google has been slowly opening things up to more devices via a standalone beta app that can be downloaded from the Play store. The company confirmed today that it will be officially launching the app later this week for a limited number of devices running Android Pie and higher and plans to expand availability to devices with more “customized Android implementations” once it has monitored initial user feedback.

The app already ships with a number of features designed to thwart scammers and spammers, including the ability to block specific numbers and display warning alerts. However, Verified Calls aims to instill a little more trust in consumers who are tired of battling robocalls and telemarketers and help ensure legitimate calls get through.

Call verification has been tested over the past few months, kicking off with a pilot in Brazil, and a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat early results indicate a “pretty significant” improvement in answer rates, though the company stopped short of divulging metrics.

Verified Calls follows a host of similar features Google has implemented, including “verified SMS,” which launched for the Android Messages app last year. A few months back, Google also introduced a pilot program that aims to bring verified brand logos to Gmail.

Verified Calls will be available first in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Spain, and India, with more countries added in the coming months.

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