June 16, 2021

TRACED Act Deadline: STIR/SHAKEN Is Reaching the Home Stretch

| | |

STIR/SHAKEN on the Horizon

STIR/SHAKEN has been in discussion for years now. Not surprisingly, consumers hate robocalls that interrupt their work and leisure time. To make matters even worse, robocalls often seem like scams. Not all of them are scams, but they have earned a negative reputation that infuriates Americans.

Robocall Legislation

The TRACED Act (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act) passed by Congress in 2019 gives the FCC a mandate to tackle the problem, setting a June 30, 2021 deadline for major carriers and a June 30, 2022 deadline for smaller carriers (that date has changed recently).

In other words, the FCC and major carriers are entering the home stretch to comply with the TRACED Act deadline. The following sections outline what has been accomplished and what tasks organizations still need to fulfill before they comply with the STIR/SHAKEN protocol that will validate call sources.

SHAKEN Certificates

The good news is that most voice carrier providers already comply with STIR/SHAKEN guidelines. Providers with fewer than 100,000 customers, however, have been granted an extension to 2023. Regardless of the carrier’s customer base, it needs to apply for and receive a SHAKEN certificate.

Eligibility for a SHAKEN certificate requires:

Companies can also streamline their application process by using STI-PA’s web portal, which provides step-by-step instructions.

Robocall Mitigation Database

Although some service providers have more time to meet the TRACED Act deadline, all providers must register with the Robocall Mitigation Database. On September 28, 2021, all phone companies must stop accepting calls that come from service providers that have not registered.

Ideally, the Robocall Mitigation Database will make it easier for all call service providers to meet their STIR/SHAKEN deadlines. The database will also add a layer of protection that makes it easier for service providers to screen out unwanted robocalls, which scammers often use to take advantage of unwitting consumers.

Carrier Efforts to Implement STIR/SHAKEN

Plenty of service providers still have work ahead of them to meet STIR/SHAKEN requirements. A few are scrambling to come into compliance before their deadlines. Other service providers — primarily larger companies with ample resources — have started conducting live testing that should help ensure a successful rollout.

The following service providers have taken significant steps toward complying with FCC regulations and improving the safety of their customers.

AT&T Efforts

In 2019, AT&T announced that it and Comcast had successfully implemented a system that authenticated calls between two carriers. For STIR/SHAKEN to function at its best, all carriers need to authenticate calls between each other. Unauthenticated calls could still reach customers, but the incoming calls would get flagged.

The companies expect this early step to radically reduce the number of robocalls that consumers receive. People should also receive some protection from “spoofed numbers” that trick them into believing phone calls come from trusted sources.

The test generated a lot of industry excitement because it took place between real callers rather than controlled experiments.

T-Mobile Efforts

In 2021, T-Mobile announced that it had taken an even more impressive step toward implementing robust STIR/SHAKEN protocols. While AT&T and Comcast showed that they could authenticate calls between providers, T-Mobile managed to partner with practically every service provider in the U.S.

T-Mobile’s advancement should mean that consumers get exceptional protection from robocallers and spoofed numbers, making it much more difficult for scammers to target them.

Verizon Efforts

In March 2021, Verizon announced that it had implemented STIR/SHAKEN authentication in coordination with about 80% of wireless carriers — likely T-Mobile and AT&T. Verizon says that adopting STIR/SHAKEN technology that coordinates with other service carriers has likely blocked 10 billion spam calls.

Interestingly, Verizon took additional steps to protect its customers and slow the spread of robocalls. In conjunction with the Industry Tradeback Group, it created honeypots that could identify and surveil robocall campaigns, going so far as to identify robocall sources and alert local law enforcement agencies.

Comcast Efforts

In addition to working directly with AT&T, Comcast has started using a verified caller ID feature based on STIR/SHAKEN protocols. The caller ID system works by confirming an incoming call’s source. If the source passes authentication token tests, the caller ID labels it as “Verified.”

STIR/SHAKEN Is on the Horizon

STIR/SHAKEN has been in the works for years. During that time, Congress and the FCC have given service providers ample time to upgrade their systems. Soon, outgoing calls will generate information that gets authenticated before passing the call on to its destination.

It looks like STIR/SHAKEN is finally on the horizon. Once complete, it should mean that millions of Americans can answer their phones without worrying about whether someone has spoofed a phone number and wants to scam them.

Keep Your Call Center Numbers Safe

Anyone working in the call center industry should look forward to STIR/SHAKEN making phone calls more reliable. In the meantime, most people rely on call-blocking apps that alert them to potential scams.

Numbers get flagged for many reasons. For example, your numbers could receive flags for spam when you use them too often while conducting legitimate business.

STIR/SHAKEN will make call center projects much easier. Until that happens, learn more about protecting your outbound number from getting flagged. Caller ID Reputation can help you monitor your outbound numbers for signs of flagging.

Reach out to Caller ID Reputation to learn more about managing your numbers so you can reach leads and customers while service providers finalize STIR/SHAKEN.