The FCC is looking for help in developing a system to authenticate phone calls.
Caller ID spoofing has become one of the bigger problems on phone networks and is one of the main tools that fraud rings use when running illegal robocall operations. Software and apps to spoof caller ID signals are easily available and fraudsters use them as a way to get past the first barrier in snaring a new victim. People are much more likely to answer a call when they see a number or caller ID name that they recognize on their screen. This technique is at the heart of most large-scale phone scams, including the IRS scam and many bank-related fraud schemes.
As part of its effort to curb illegal robocall operations, especially those targeting consumers, the FCC is trying to put together a system that can verify the true origin of a call.
“The Commission will explore ways to set up a reliable system to verify that a phone call is really coming from the phone number that it claims to be. Many malicious robocallers hide their true originating phone number in order to evade call-blocking or filtering tools and trick consumers about a call’s true source. A reliable authentication system would help confront this behavior and strengthen call-blocking,” the FCC said in a notice this week.
“Some carriers and third-party developers today offer consumers various services to block or filter unwanted calls. Improved call authentication would provide another tool to identify spoofing and improve the effectiveness of these services.”
The FCC said it receives more than 200,000 complaints from consumers every year about robocalls, more than any other issue. In addition to the call authentication idea, the commission also is considering methods to allow carriers to block certain calls, such as those that come from numbers that are only supposed to receive calls. Neither of these plans will solve the problem on its own, but put together, they may make more of a dent.
“A recent report from an industry-led robocall initiative included a request for the Commission to work with the private sector to accelerate adoption of network-wide standards to verify and authenticate caller ID for calls carried over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. Adoption of universal standards could result in much-improved reliability of caller ID, allowing consumers to again trust the caller ID information they see when receiving calls,” the FCC said.