September 13, 2023
How The Industry Traceback Group Takes Action Against Robocalls
Robocalls continue to be a persistent problem, despite efforts like STIR/SHAKEN regulations. Call centers and managers need to stay informed about new strategies to combat this issue. The Industry Traceback Group (ITG) has gained attention for its proactive role in fighting robocalls. The FCC has designated ITG as the official group responsible for tracing the origin of illegal calls.
The telecom industry is constantly working to outsmart fraudulent actors. The most effective method for identifying robocallers is by initiating a traceback process.
What is The Industry Traceback Group (ITG)?
The Industry Traceback Group is an organization dedicated to identifying and combating illegal robocalls. Recently, the Federal Communications Commission re-designated ITG as the official group responsible for tracing the origin of these calls. By tracing the lineage of suspicious calls, ITG plays a crucial role in holding scammers accountable.
ITG helps in the following ways:
- Providers: When call centers cooperate with ITG, tracebacks are more robust, enabling the identification and mitigation of illegal robocalls.
- Governmental agencies: Identifying robocallers helps bring them to justice, along with the organizations that facilitate their calls.
- Enterprise companies: ITG assists companies in protecting their interests and consumers from illegal spam robodialing entities.
The FCC certified ITG’s re-designation on August 18, 2023. You can find the document here.
How Does the Traceback Process Work?
The traceback process is an investigative method used to identify the original source of a robocall. It involves tracing a call back through the telecommunications network, starting from the terminating service provider (TSP). The process continues through each of the call’s facilitators or service providers, ultimately leading to the call’s origin. The information obtained through traceback efforts is crucial for authorities to take legal action against the individuals responsible for illegal robocalls and the entities aiding in call connections.
A traceback begins with a party locating the metadata for a call in question. This metadata identifies the provider that last touched the call, the terminating service provider, connecting it with the called party’s phone number. The process continues by asking the terminating provider where they received the call from, and continues to each previous provider until an upstream provider acknowledges the call originated with their service or until an originating provider is identified but does not respond to traceback efforts.
How Is It Decided If Call Data Is Credible And Reliable?
There are multiple steps in traceback efforts to discover the actual call originator, including confirming who provides data and where the data was sourced. The most reliable information is housed in repositories such as:
- NANP, or North American Numbering Plan
- TFN, or the Toll-Free Number Registry
Repositories update data based on the information provided by Responsible Organizations (RespOrgs) and owners of Service Provider ID Numbers (SPID). ITG also maintains a database of spoofed numbers used in illegal or fraudulent call traffic.
The Importance of Robocall Tracebacks
Robocall traceback efforts played a significant role in the recent FCC fine of nearly $300 million against an auto-warranty scam company. This company operated multiple shell organizations, using robocalls to deceive consumers by offering fraudulent auto service contracts under the guise of vehicle warranties. Through traceback requests, ITG successfully linked and identified these entities, leading to their downfall.
The individuals responsible for these widespread activities were two men who had previously been banned for life from participating in telemarketing activities. In around 70% of calls where the caller’s origin is identified, that caller is removed from the service network. At this point, the FCC continues their investigation by looking into the originating service provider, their customer responsible for the robocall, or both, to determine the true guilty party.
Phones have been a vital part of our lives for 150 years, serving as one of the main ways people stay connected. However, illegal robocallers and scammers pose a threat to this means of communication. According to a 2021 report from US Telecom, ITG conducted 115% more tracebacks per month in 2020 compared to 2019, representing a staggering 975% increase from 2018. These statistics highlight the growing effectiveness and significance of traceback efforts in curbing robocalls. ITG serves as a testament to the benefits of traceback initiatives.
ITG’s Mission: Identifying the Origin of Robocalls
Traceback efforts are highly coordinated attempts to uncover the responsible parties. They involve multiple industry agents who have credibility and reliable access to authoritative data regarding phone numbers and calls.
ITG’s primary goal is to prevent scam calls from reaching U.S. consumers. This mission includes tracing calls originating from other countries to support international efforts against robocall operations. For more information about ITG’s history and goals, you can visit the Robocalls Action Center by USTelecom.
Learn More About the ITG
In a world where robocalls are becoming increasingly sophisticated and problematic, organizations like ITG play a crucial role. For call centers and managers seeking to stay updated on legislation and strategies against illegal spam calls, understanding the work ITG is doing is vital. Their traceback efforts are making significant progress in holding scammers accountable and creating a safer telecommunication environment for everyone.
To learn more about the Industry Traceback Group and the FCC designation, you can refer to the following resources: