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07.01.21

STIR/SHAKEN goes live: Can we say goodbye to robocalls?

BY Dan Deane

As of Wednesday, June 30, all major carriers and voice providers are now required to implement the STIR/SHAKEN protocols. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hopes that these new caller ID authentication tools will finally do what the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) could not—stop the torrent of disruptive and annoying robocalls that have plagued Americans for decades.

Under the new industry-wide standards, telephone service providers must assign a digital token to each phone number they issue so that carriers routing calls can confirm that the call is not “spoofed.” Phone scammers often “spoof” calls by using a false caller ID that makes it appear as though an incoming call is a familiar or local number that the call recipient is more likely to trust. FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks noted that 6.3 billion spoofed calls were placed in the month of March 2021 alone.

All the major voice providers (think AT&T, T-Mobile) are now required to use STIR/SHAKEN technology to verify the legitimacy of incoming calls before connecting them. Smaller providers (those with under 100,000 subscribers) have one more year, until June 2022, to implement STIR/SHAKEN. This deadline will be just as significant as yesterday’s, given data showing that a high percentage of scam calls originate from smaller carriers. In the meantime, all phone companies are required to report their robocall mitigation efforts to the FCC’s Robocall Mitigation Database.

Only time will tell if these efforts will finally stem the tide of robocalls. But FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s public statement sounds hopeful: “While there is no silver bullet in the endless fight against scammers, STIR/SHAKEN will turbo-charge many of the tools we use in our fight against robocalls: from consumer apps and network-level blocking to enforcement investigations and shutting down the gateways used by international robocall campaigns. This is a good day for American consumers who—like all of us—are sick and tired of illegal spoofed robocalls.”

To read the full press release from the FCC, click here.

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Dan Deane

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