FCC Consumer Advisory Committee Approves Recommendation Regarding Caller ID Authentication

The development of a robust call authentication system provides hope for a long-term, technological solution to stop fraudulent robocallers without impeding legitimate business communications.

3/2/2018 9:00 AM

FCC Consumer Advisory Committee Approves Recommendation Regarding Caller ID Authentication

The Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) has unanimously adopted a recommendation from its Robocalls Working Group to create a Caller ID Authentication System intended to stop unwanted or illegal calls.

The Feb. 26 recommendation follows a Notice of Inquiry released by the FCC earlier this year “to learn more about the ways that it can facilitate the development of a technology, caller ID authentication, which can be a tool to help eliminate illegal caller ID spoofing and unwanted calls.”

When fraudulent callers use “spoofing” to deliberately falsify the information on the recipient’s caller ID and disguise their identity, as described by the FCC, they lose the ability to avoid unwanted, illegal phone calls. And, “spoofers” will manipulate the caller ID feature to impersonate representatives of financial services companies, such as debt collectors, creditors, insurance companies or in some cases the government.

This can harm legitimate callers trying to reach consumers to resolve an account, in the case of debt collectors or creditors, or address an issue as well as consumers who are tricked by the seemingly legitimate calls and end up sending money or revealing financial or personal information.

According to the Robocall Working Group’s recommendation, “it is difficult to identify spoofed calls using existing call-blocking technologies as scammers modify their calling patterns, such as by unlawfully spoofing local numbers. Many current technologies make use of blacklists of numbers reported by consumers. In response, fraudulent callers commonly cycle through different spoofed numbers to evade blocks.”

The recommendation notes that the illegal caller ID spoofing activities present challenges to law enforcement working to investigate and stop fraudulent robocallers.

The use of caller ID authentication included in the recommendation will help expedite the investigations process and “traceback.”

The technology is currently in development and, when it is finalized and ready to use, the approved recommendation states the FCC should ensure:

  • All voice providers are encouraged to implement caller ID authentication as broadly and quickly as possible.
  • Service providers and third-party call blocking services can offer consumers the ability to block, under appropriate circumstances, calls that fail to authenticate the caller ID information.
  • Consumers have better protections from spoofed calls originating internationally, which accounts for a significant portion of fraudulent calls.

The CAC and Robocalls Working Group also note that the FCC should, “work collaboratively with industry and consumers groups to continue to explore tools and practices that effectively protect consumers from illegal and unwanted calls, including consumers with traditional landline service, who currently have fewer mitigation options than consumers with IP-enabled service.”

ACA International’s Position

A technological solution like that offered by comprehensive call authentication allows fraudulent robocalls to be objectively targeted without interfering with calls made by legitimate businesses. This stands in stark contrast to the call blocking tools currently in the marketplace that rely on subjective factors and imperfect algorithms to predict whether a call is likely to be a scam, resulting in the potential blocking of legitimate calls - as many ACA members have experienced. 

Given the limitations of current call blocking tools and the substantial harm they can cause to both businesses and consumers, ACA International supports the development of a robust call authentication system to provide a long-term, effective solution to thwart the efforts of unlawful robocallers while preserving the rights of legitimate business callers. 

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