November 8, 2023

Financial Institutions Propose Amendments for Call Blocking Regulations

Financial Institutions Propose Amendments for Call Blocking Regulations

Robocall scams not only target consumers but also financial institutions, which regularly experience high rates of call spoofing and fraud attempts. Scammers impersonate representatives from banks and financial organizations through various channels like phone calls, texts, and emails. The financial industry has become a major advocate for stronger call spoofing mitigation efforts. However, some recent regulations aimed at stopping illegal callers have unintended negative consequences for businesses in the industry.

Financial Institutions Are Targets for Fraud

In 2022 alone, Americans lost over 8 billion dollars to fraud. Within the finance industry, fraud is even more prevalent. Financial institutions are frequently targeted by spoofing attacks across different communication channels. Fraudsters know that customers are more likely to share financial information with banks and other financial institutions, making them prime targets. Nowadays, even smaller banks and financial services have fallen victim to fraudulent spoofing attempts.

Given the high risk faced by the financial industry, many banks and financial organizations support efforts to combat call spoofing. However, some recent changes in how carriers and analytics engines block calls have unintentionally affected businesses in the industry.

Financial Institutions Petition FCC

In a recent letter to the FCC, several financial institutions expressed their concerns and petitioned for stricter call spoofing measures that take into account the unique needs of their industry.

These institutions included the American Bankers Association, American Financial Services Association, Consumer Bankers Association, Credut Union National Association, and several others. While these institutions fully support the FCC’s actions against call spoofing and fraudulent actors, some recent regulations have negatively impacted their businesses.

Finance Industry Experiences More Flagged Calls

Although call-blocking efforts have helped consumers deal with scam and spam calls, the system is flawed. Financial institutions experience higher rates of call blocking and negative labeling compared to other industries. This is problematic because these organizations often rely on high-volume communications for important purposes like past-due notifications, fraud alerts, and other service calls. Many of their informational calls to consumers are mislabeled as spam by analytics engines, resulting in blocked calls and customers missing crucial information about mortgage payments, investment developments, or overdue payments.

As a solution to this flagging imbalance, financial institutions propose that analytics engines reassess call analytic patterns that identify “lawful calls.” They argue that higher call volumes, lower call durations, and lower call completion rates should not automatically label a call as spam.

Call Blocking Notification Requests

Financial service institutions also suggest that callers should be notified when analytics engines block a call under the “indicia of illegality” category and when negative labels are applied to their numbers. Most financial organizations support the use of SIP 608 and SIP 603+ call-blocking notifications after extensive testing. However, they propose that the implementation of SIP 607 and SIP 603 should be delayed until further testing has been completed.

The letter acknowledges and supports the FCC’s efforts to stop illegal robocalls and robo-texts by requiring intermediate providers to block illegal calls upon FCC notification.

Utilize the Do Not Originate (DNO) List

Financial industry members agree that voice service providers should utilize a “reasonable” Do Not Originate (DNO) list to block registered spoofed calls. By doing so, inbound-only lines, unused or invalid phone numbers, and unallocated phone numbers would be prevented from being used in fraudulent attempts. For example, IRS numbers, which have been heavily spoofed, can be added to the DNO list, ensuring that carriers recognize them as inbound numbers only.

Caller ID Display for A-Attestation

The Association of Financial Institutions suggests that caller ID information should indicate whether a call’s origin has been verified. This measure aims to prevent illegally spoofed calls from displaying a financial institution’s information since their authenticity cannot be proven. This, in turn, encourages financial institutions to strive for A-Attestation ratings in their calls. A-Attestation is awarded only to calls whose origin has been thoroughly vetted.

Caller ID Trust is Imperative

Building and maintaining consumer trust is of utmost importance in the finance industry. Any communication or transaction involving money is sensitive, and fraudsters can severely damage both consumer finances and the reputation of financial institutions. While carriers work towards blocking fraudulent calls more effectively, legitimate businesses and financial institutions continue to face erroneous flags or blocks on their calls.

Until proper regulations are put in place, organizations can take proactive steps to mitigate the effects of negative call labels or blocked calls. These steps include:

  • Proactive call monitoring to quickly address labeling issues.
  • Striving for A-Attestation to confirm the call’s origin.
  • Identifying call-blocking notifications to petition for corrections when necessary.
  • Seeking redress for negative caller ID actions by contacting the carrier, FCC, or other relevant entities.

Investing in Caller ID Integrity

Recent legislation and FCC measures have made great progress in reducing the number of illegal robocalls and other scam or spam calls. Financial institutions fully support these efforts, particularly since their customers are frequently targeted by fraudsters attempting to obtain sensitive financial information.

Unfortunately, legitimate financial communications are often blocked or receive negative labels due to the current state of analytics engines. Many of these communications share characteristics with spoofed and scam calls. The Association of Financial Institutions has raised these concerns to the FCC through a letter, calling for continued efforts to combat illegitimate calls while safeguarding important client communications. Although the finance industry is not alone in facing these challenges, it may suffer the most significant negative effects.