Robocalls are out of control. Is a new mandated technology helping?

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Millions of Americans don’t even bother answering calls from unknown or blocked numbers for fear that a call could be from an illegal robocaller. Many were hoping this would change with a June 30 deadline requiring the FCC to implement technology to force callers to identify themselves.

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The US Federal Communications Commission’s deadline for the technology to be implemented beat back those pesky robocalls came into force at the beginning of summer. Starting June 30th, all major voice carriers in the state, including telephony companies AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and cable operator Comcast, will be required to implement a technology called stir / shaken, which is designed to curb the flood of spam calls.

However, experts say the battle to end robocalls is not over yet.

“Stir / Shaken closed a path,” said Clayton LiaBraaten, senior advisory board member at Truecaller, which is developing a spam blocker and caller ID app. “But it makes already very capable criminals even more sophisticated and sinister in their scams.”

The hope is that Stir / Shaken will finally contain the barrage of spam calls with health scams, expiring auto warranties that don’t exist, and fake banks offering fake interest rate discounts on credit cards. The scourge of illegal robocalls has plagued the public for years. It is the number 1 consumer complaint and a top priority at the FCC.

U.S. consumers received nearly 22 billion robocalls, or calls from automated dialers with recorded messages, in the first five months of the year, making over 52 billion robocalls this year, according to YouMail, a company specializing in blocking robocalls.

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These calls are not only annoying but also costly. Nearly 60 million Americans say they fell victim to phone fraud in the past year, like the calls purported to be from the IRS or a company inquiring about an expiring warranty on a non-existent car Report from Truecaller. Overall, Americans have been defrauded of nearly $ 30 billion in the past 12 months, according to a survey by TrueCaller and The Harris Poll.

To be fair, not all robocalls are bad or annoying. Some companies and public institutions use robocalls to convey important information. For example, your pharmacy can use an automatic record to let you know your prescription is ready for collection, or your children’s school can use it to let you know of a snowy day. These are legitimate robocalls that consumers need to sign up for in order to receive them.

Then there are the illegal robocallers. Because robocalls are cheap to make, they are exploited by scammers around the world who use them to scam billions of dollars of Americans every year. The problem has gotten so bad that many of us don’t answer the phone when the doorbell rings, especially if it is an unknown number in the caller ID. Too often scammers cover up their phone numbers to trick people into answering.

This is where stir / shaken comes in, where voice providers need to check where calls are coming from, put this FAQ together.

What is stirring / shaking?

Stir / Shaken is a technology that ensures that when calls are made over telephone networks, the caller ID is “signed” as legitimate by the originating providers and validated by other providers before the calls reach you. In short, the technology authenticates the origin of a phone call and ensures that the caller ID information matches.

What is Caller ID Spoofing?

Spoofing is when callers hide their identity by deliberately falsifying the information that is transmitted to your Caller ID display. Scammers do this to make calls less traceable. Scammers also attempt to trick you into taking a call through something called neighbor spoofing, which makes it appear like a local number that you may already know or trust.

Is spoofing illegal?

Under the Truth in Caller ID Law, FCC rules prohibit any person or entity from submitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent, cheating, causing harm, or falsely obtaining anything of value. Spoofing is not illegal if there is no intent to cause harm.

Illegal spoofers can face fines of up to $ 10,000 per violation of the law.

Spoofing, which is supposed to hide the identity, may be allowed under certain circumstances. For example, law enforcement agencies working on cases, victims of domestic violence, or doctors who want to discuss private medical matters may be exempt from these rules.

What is the traced act? How will that stop robocalls?

the Traced (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence) Act of 2019, power Compliance with stir / shaken technology is essential for all voice service providers.

The law directed the FCC to make rules that require voice providers to implement the technology within 18 months.

What was the June 30th deadline about?

The FCC has given telephone service companies a deadline of June 30th to implement stir / shaken. Telephone companies also had to Publish Robocall prevention strategies to a public database.

What has happened since June 30th? Did the deadline do anything to slow down robocalls?

Experts like LiaBraaten say they are still analyzing the data to see if the stir / shaken made a dent.

“The first signs are that while we are seeing less ‘neighbor spoofing’, we are not seeing an overall decrease in spam calls,” he said.

LiaBraaten stated that scammers are still using numbers that may not match the recipient’s area code. The real question is whether people will still be answering these calls even if it doesn’t look like the calls are coming from a neighbor or someone in their area code.

But he and others say that it is likely that any decline in robocalls will just be a rash initially as criminals adapt and find new methods. The sad truth is that these calls are cheap and scamming people is lucrative.

“In the end it will be a whack-a-mole game,” said FCC commissioner Brendan Carr in an interview with CNET in May. “So the long-term solution is still difficult.”

Do all carriers need to use stirring / shaking?

Previously, the FCC had given small providers with fewer than 100,000 subscribers until June 30, 2023 to implement Stir / Shaken. The extension would allow smaller vendors to evaluate implementation costs and plan for deployment. But the FCC said in April that there is evidence that a large amount of illegal robocalls are coming from a subset of smaller vendors, so the agency has proposed extending the deadline for those vendors by a full year.

What is the government doing to stop illegal robocalls?

The Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and the FCC have all worked together to combat robocalls. In March 2020 the DOJ has won an injunction against two Internet telephone providers which reportedly delivered hundreds of millions of calls to consumers.

The FCC has stepped up its enforcement by sending cease and desist letters to wireless carriers facilitating fraudulent calls and fines illegal robocallers. In one case, the FCC fined Texas telemarketers $ 225 million for falsifying approximately 1 billion robocalls.

What’s next in the fight to end robocalls?

Legislators are in Congress Make legislative proposals To impose tougher penalties on illegal robocallers and scammers. Regulators promise to step up enforcement.

LiaBraaten says Stir / Shaken will drive more illegal robocallers outside of the US, where a significant number of robocalls have already originated. Tackling this problem requires greater cooperation between international airlines and regulators, which is not an easy task, he admits. But he believes world leaders, international regulators and airlines around the world will be motivated to work together.

“It’s a big challenge when trying to reach a number of multilateral agreements,” he said. “But this is not just an American problem. It is a global problem. All over the world people are being betrayed.”