An industry-led strike force is preparing to take away one of the most valuable pieces of technology used by phone scammers: caller ID spoofing.
The Robocall Strike Force, convened by the FCC and comprising wired and wireline telecom companies, has been working since August on a handful of new technologies, standards, and other techniques to help address the robocall problem. On Wednesday, members of the strike force delivered their report to the FCC and said that a trial of a new Do Not Originate list has shown tremendous promise in preventing scammers from being able to spoof numbers belonging to government agencies, charities, and other legitimate organizations.
A trial of the DNO list has resulted in a 90 percent drop in the volume of IRS scam calls.
Phone fraud scams hinge on the scammers’ ability to spoof trusted numbers and entice victims into answering their calls. A ubiquitous version of this is the IRS tax scam, in which criminals spoof 800 numbers belonging to the IRS and attempt to bully victims into forking over money for non-existent unpaid back taxes. The Do Not Originate list that the strike force’s member companies have been trying out works by allowing the owner of a number to specify that it should only be used to accept incoming calls and never to place outgoing ones. So, if a scammer tries to spoof an IRS toll-free number, for example, the call would be blocked at the carrier level and never reach the intended victim.
A trial of the DNO list that’s been running for the last few weeks on some IRS numbers has resulted in a 90 percent drop in the volume of IRS scam calls, officials from AT&T, which leads the strike force, said during the FCC meeting Wednesday. The carriers on the strike force, which include Sprint, Verizon, and many others, plan to continue testing the DNO list in the coming months, with the intent to fully implement it sometime next year.
In addition to the DNO list, the strike force members also are working on a system to classify calls into categories, such as political or charity, as a way to give consumers more information before they answer calls from unknown numbers. And, the group said it has developed a working solution for authentication between VoIP applications and traditional landline networks as another way to defeat spoofing from callers in foreign countries. That system is in an early testing phase right now and will be moved to a testbed network for a larger scale test early next year.