Telstra combats scams with a smart home phone

We’ve heard of the smart phone, but Telstra’s Call Guardian may well be the first smart home phone we’ve properly seen, as Telstra finds a way to cut down on scammers but not letting them call you to begin with.

Despite the fact that the Australian government has a “Do Not Call” register, there’s still little you can do to stop the influx of scammers calling up out of the blue and trying to get you to give them your identification details or let them break into your computer.

Beyond hanging up on them — which is by far the easiest way of dealing with things — there isn’t a lot a regular person can do, but if you get worried that a scam might be real, Telstra may have a solution, and it arrives as a phone.

It’s called the “Telstra Call Guardian” and it’s a home phone with a virtual assistant that does the simple task of asking an unknown caller to say their name before being connected to your home line. When the person on the other end of the phone says their name, it is recorded and played through a small speaker on the Telstra Call Guardian phone, which tells you — the person receiving the call — who is calling when the phone rings, with an option available for you to pick the call, block the call, or send the call straight to the answering machine.


“We know unwanted calls can be very frustrating for our customers,” said Telstra’s Jennifer Douglas, adding that these calls range “from scammers offering to ‘repair’ the family PC to salespeople calling just when you’ve settled down in front of the TV, they can be an unwelcome intrusion”.

“We already do a lot of work in arming our customers with the information that can help them distinguish scammers from genuine callers. Now customers can have their very own tool to block unwanted calls,” said Douglas.

Outside of this neat little function, the Telstra Call Guardian is essentially just another home phone, with storage for up to 1000 numbers, a 1.8 inch colour display, and cordless functionality with an answering machine built into the base station.

We do need to note that you’ll need to program the saved numbers in the phone’s saved contact list if you want the calls to come through without being named before you pick up, so if you grab one, make sure to do that, otherwise the relos will constantly be shouting their name into the receiver to tell you they’re calling.

On the other hand, that might not be so bad.

Telstra’s Call Guardian 301 is available not for $3 per month over two years or $72 outright from Telstra stores.