FCC Will Now Require Phone Companies to Combat Spoofed Robocalls

Cell phone network providers will now be required to use caller ID authentication to protect consumers from caller ID spoofing.  The technique is used frequently by robocall scam campaigns in an effort to make it more likely that the call will be answered.

“American consumers are sick and tired of unwanted robocalls, this consumer among them. Caller ID authentication will be a significant step towards ending the scourge of spoofed robocalls. It’s time for carriers to implement robust caller ID authentication,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The technical standard that will be used is called STIR/SHAKEN, it allows the company to verify that the caller ID information matches the caller’s phone number. This is meant to save money and help restore consumer trust in caller ID information, benefiting consumers and businesses.

“Widespread deployment of STIR/SHAKEN will reduce the effectiveness of illegal spoofing, allow law enforcement to identify bad actors more easily, and help phone companies identify calls with illegally spoofed caller ID information before those calls reach their subscribers,” said a press release from the Federal Communications Commission released on March 31.

The order from the FCC requires the phone service from both the sending and receiving phones to implement the STIR/SHAKEN protocol and gives them a deadline of June 30, 2021 to begin compliance with the order before a punishment. This aligns with the enforcement of the TRACED Act which gives the government better tools to enforce telephone consumer protection laws.

“The FCC estimates that the benefits of eliminating the wasted time and nuisance caused by illegal scam robocalls will exceed $3 billion annually, and STIR/SHAKEN is an important part of realizing those cost savings,” the press release says. It also claims the protection from fraudulent robocall schemes will help Americans save money, saying they cost individuals approximately $10 billion annually.

The FCC also issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which will allow public comment on expanding the STIR/SHAKEN mandate for small and intermediate service providers and those that rely on different technology.

According to the FCC, they have been working on combating spoofed robocalls for the last three years using a multi-part strategy. They expanded rules for foreign calls and messages, they have enabled voice service providers to block unlawful calls and issued hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for rule violations.