December 23, 2020

Rich Call Data Sees First Trial in STIR/SHAKEN Call

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Rich Call Data Trail in STIR/SHAKEN

Unwanted robocalls have changed the way that many consumers feel about getting phone calls. When an unfamiliar number appears, most people hesitate to answer. They don’t want an unrequested solicitation to interrupt their day. Even more importantly, they don’t want a scammer to trick them into handing out private information. Rich call data (RCD) gives companies a tool to improve customer trust and get more people to answer calls by enhancing caller ID expectations.

Here’s the good news: a group of telecom companies including Comcast, NetNumber, Everbridge, Numeracle, and Twilio recently completed the first test call using RCD. The test takes telecommunication technology one big step closer to harnessing the full potential of STIR/SHAKEN protocols that will benefit consumers and businesses.

What Is Rich Call Data?

Rich call data often looks much like standard caller ID. There are a few noteworthy differences, though, that make rich call data more useful.

From the consumer’s perspective, rich call data matters because it can tell them your phone number, business name, and company logo. When they see all of this information on their smartphones, they feel confident that you’re calling them instead of someone spoofing your number.

Rich call data also has several technical differences. For instance:

  • RCD uses SHAKEN identity tokens to digitally sign your business’s information.
  • Unlike standard caller ID, rich call data does not fetch information from the terminating service provider.
  • RCD is managed by the originating service provider to give callers more control.

Your customers might not see a significant difference on their end, but RCD uses complex technology to establish the authenticity and accuracy of the information that appears on their caller ID screens. Since rich call data relies on the STIR/SHAKEN framework, the information cannot be displayed unless it gets authenticated properly by the system.

History of Caller ID

Believe it or not, a Greek engineer developed a caller ID system in 1968. The helpful technology didn’t reach consumers until 1984, though. Anyone alive during the time might remember small boxes with screens that displayed incoming numbers. Over time, the technology advanced to provide more information about incoming calls.

CNAM

CNAM, an abbreviation for “caller name,” became an add-on service for called ID customers about a year after the technology reached the consumer market. With CNAM, caller ID screens could display the phone number and names connected to incoming calls.

The information used to display phone numbers and registered names were typically stored in databases managed by third-party companies. The terminating service provider would attempt to connect to the database to retrieve business names associated with the incoming number. The service didn’t always work as intended, though, because some terminating service providers didn’t have access to every business’ CNAM data. It worked well enough for the time, but CNAM falls far short of today’s expectations.

eCNAM

Enhanced CNAM (eCNAM) solved many of the issues that made the original CNAM untrustworthy. With eCNAM, terminating providers had easier access to accurate information stored in databases. Unfortunately, the technology still relied on third-party database managers, which made it difficult to verify a call’s origin. It was a big step in the right direction, but telecom engineers knew they still needed to improve the system.

Rich Call Data

Rich call data has more authority because it was developed with Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) technology in mind. Instead of relying on a third-party database, rich call data uses a PASSporT identity token signed by the originating service provider in a STIR/SHAKEN call. With the identity token, service providers don’t need third-party databases anymore. Instead, they can verify the SIP Header identity to get the rich call data.

While this process might sound complicated (it does require a lot of collaboration and verification on behalf of service providers), it actually streamlines caller ID by removing third-party database managers.

Additionally, originating service providers gain more control over the information that a phone displays. It’s much easier for a service provider to maintain an accurate, updated database than it is for a third-party company to do the job.

Benefits of Using Rich Call Data

Rich call data technology isn’t ready for general use yet. The recent test proved that the protocol works, but companies still have a way to go before they can incorporate rich call data and STIR/SHAKEN into every call.

While you will have to wait a while to see the results, expect significant benefits from rich call data. Impressive changes that will benefit consumers and businesses include:

  • Creating a more transparent, secure telephone system that people can trust.
  • Using the STIR/SHAKEN framework to verify the information of every incoming call.
  • Making consumers feel more comfortable when they answer calls because they know that they can trust the information on the caller ID screens.
  • Improving answer rates so call centers and businesses can convert more of their leads into paying customers.
  • Mending the bad name that number spoofing has given the call center industry.

Most importantly, everyone will know that a sophisticated system of security checks and public key cryptography will ensure that rich call data provides accurate information that helps people decide whether they want to answer the phone and makes it much harder for scammers to target victims.

Monitor Numbers Until RCD Rolls Outs

Everyone wants rich call data and SHAKEN/STIR to roll out to all service providers as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it may take months or years. In the meantime, consumers will stay vigilant and protect themselves from scammers using spoofed numbers.

As someone managing a team of call agents, you know that most people now use third-party apps and their service providers to block potential scams. The service providers and smartphone applications pay attention to how many times numbers place calls within a period of time. Many services will also let customers report suspected scams.

It makes sense for consumers to protect themselves, but the lack of trust can hurt your business goals. What if your number gets flagged as spam even though you use it for legitimate purposes?

Caller ID Reputation monitors apps and service providers to manage the reputation of your outbound numbers. When Caller ID Reputation suspects that one or more of your numbers has been flagged, it sends you an alert. At that point, you can stop using the number and switch to a fresh one that hasn’t been tarnished.

Don’t let scammers hurt your business by making you look like a scammer. Contact Caller ID Reputation today to schedule a conversation with one of our representatives. We can give you detailed information about how our software makes it easier for you to manage your call center’s outbound numbers.

Eventually, RCD and SHAKEN/STIR will make the industry a more trustworthy place. Until then, you need to protect the reputation of your outbound numbers.