The year 2020 is poised to bring a lot of excitement to the world of marketing and sales. While some changes may come as a surprise, others are necessary and will perhaps be welcome. Carriers and call blocking apps are working to to implement the latest regulations from the FCC.

One such change is the upcoming implementation of SHAKEN/STIR. SHAKEN/STIR requires phone carriers to block robocalls for their users. Caller ID authentication is just one challenge carriers face, actual collection of necessary data compounds this challenge.

What is SHAKEN/STIR?

SHAKEN, or Secure Handling of Asserted information toKENs, and STIR, or Secure Telephonic Identity Revisited, are standards in the telecommunications industry that enable service providers to sign all calls cryptographically in the SIP header, or session initiation protocol.

The fundamental ideas of SHAKEN/STIR are to re-establish trust within the telecommunications industry. Additionally, it will serve to take a stronger stand against robocalls with malicious intent, and protect consumers from the frauds and abuses associated with robocalling.

Why Adopt SHAKEN/STIR?

One of the top consumer complaints received by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) involves fraudulent and abusive robocalling, including illegal “spoof” robocalls. The telecommunications industry seeks to combat this abuse through adopting SHAKEN/STIR and other tools. In fact, FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, issued a release in November of 2018 urging service providers to implement this framework.

It’s worth mentioning that SHAKEN/STIR isn’t a call-blocking technology per se. But when implemented, this tool can alert providers when fraudulent activity is occurring. In addition to the implementation of this protocol, caller ID authentication will help to prevent the connection of calls engaged in spoofing.

It’s also important to note that not all robocalls are illegitimate. Carriers and telecom companies are working hard to influence the industry and its regulators to ensure genuine calls aren’t blocked in this rush to prevent call abuse.

For instance, services that consumers want and expect, such as phone calls from their children’s schools or their family pharmacy should not be blocked. As stated, SHAKEN/STIR doesn’t block calls outright. But, by using the data gleaned by verifying signed calls, providers can analyze and block those calls deemed Scam Likely. Additionally, gathering this data allows analysis to identify and combat fraudulent phone activity in the future.

Enter the Call-Blocking Apps

Call blocking apps have been gathering data on blocked and reported numbers for some time now. Until recently, the majority of carriers didn’t consider collecting this type of data. With the FCC’s latest changes, however, this lack of data is a hurdle carriers must overcome.

Some of the top call blocking apps today are:

  • Hiya
  • Nomorobo
  • RoboKiller
  • Truecaller
  • AT&T Call Protect
  • TrapCall

Many phone carriers are currently relying on data provided to them by these call blocking apps or other third parties, such as White Pages. While sharing data is a good thing, the data is fragmented and often inconsistent.

Each app that collects data has their own method of determining spam scores. Some have created categories to show different types of calls such as “Spam Risk”, “Scam Likely”, “Telemarketer”, “Political” or “Charity” to display numbers differently depending on the call’s origination.

Why Didn’t Carriers Get Involved Sooner?

While robocalls and scam calls are a lucrative and malicious industry, phone carriers are also making money on their end for each call. There’s been little incentive for carriers to go after robocalls until recently. This is partly due to the following:

  • Money
  • Lack of Regulation
  • Insufficient Infrastructure

FCC regulations

Since the FCC started enlisting regulations to combat robocalling and spam calls, carriers and service providers will now be held liable if they are not following the latest regulations. With regulation enforcement kicking in, infrastructure such as SHAKEN/STIR is a necessity to combat spam.

Call Blocking App Data

Beginning in 2020, the FCC requires carriers to block spam calls. Carriers are scrambling to get the necessary data to incorporate a smooth transition into these regulations. This is why they are seeking to use existing call blocking app data to incorporate into their new infrastructures.

In addition to this, many are adding different categories of call listings to allow the receiver to make an informed decision if they should answer the call.

Examples of current categories:

  • Scam Likely
  • Spam Risk
  • Fraud Risk
  • Telemarketer
  • Robocaller
  • Debt Collector
  • Extortion
  • IRS Scam
  • Political
  • Tech Support Scam
  • Survey
  • Identity Theft

In some of these cases, the number is not conducting fraudulent activity but some individuals may consider it a “nuisance call”. Carriers don’t want to block all “nuisance calls” but instead inform their customers to allow them to make that decision for themselves.

Furthermore, most call blocking apps will give users the option to auto-block these types of calls or allow them through.

Fragmentation of Data

Since there is no standardization in place, one carrier may use one app’s data while other carriers are using different data. This could mean for example, carrier A uses data from app A, while carrier B use data from app B, your number may be show up for flags for users on carrier A but not carrier B.

Your number could be showing flags under different categories and risk types depending on the data provided from the call blocking apps. This disconnect is leaving many businesses confused as they may be showing up as spam to some customers and not to others.

How Can Caller ID Reputation Help You?

Caller ID Reputation scans your number across all major call blocking apps and networks to show you how and where your numbers are flagged. With this service, you can monitor and manage your reputation across the board.