Scammers and robocallers often use caller ID spoofing to display a number other than the actual number they are calling from, typically making it appear as though a neighbor or someone their target knows is calling. By using caller ID spoofing, scammers increase the likelihood that the intended target will answer a robocall. In many cases, these calls are made with malicious intent, such as a scammer impersonating an IRS agent in order to steal sensitive personal information.
Caller ID authentication is a new system targeted at combating illegal caller ID spoofing. Consumers and law enforcement alike will be more readily able to identify the source of illegal robocalls, thus reducing their frequency and their impact. Once implemented, caller ID authentication, or STIR/SHAKEN, will greatly increase the accuracy of caller ID information and provide consumers with helpful information for determining which calls are authenticated.
What is STIR/SHAKEN?
STIR/SHAKEN are acronyms for the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) standards. This means that a call being routed through interconnected phone networks would have its caller ID “signed” as legitimate by the originating carrier, then validated by other carriers before reaching the consumer.
STIR/SHAKEN will verify that the person calling you is, in fact, legitimate and calling you from the number showing on your caller ID. While call verification will not prevent all robocalls from reaching your phone, it will give you more information so you can make a better-informed decision about whether or not to answer the call. It will also track where the call originated, helping to identify potential scammers.
The FCC has mandated that major phone carriers uphold the STIR/SHAKEN standard to not only verify the calls within their network but also the calls coming in from other networks. Most providers have communicated to the FCC that they will meet the standard, and many also currently provide tools to their customers to block robocalls. Unfortunately, STIR/SHAKEN also requires modern phone routing, so older landlines will not have this protection.
While the new rules of STIR/SHAKEN are still being finalized, there are precautions you can take to
protect yourself from robocalls and potential scams:
- Add your landline or cell phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov. While it is unlikely to prevent scam calls, it may help to reduce the number of legitimate calls you receive from telemarketers, making it easier to screen for robocalls and scammers.
- Talk to your phone service provider about robocall-blocking services. Many companies offer services that can block calls or alert you that an incoming robocall may be from a potential scammer or spammer.
- Do not answer robocalls. By answering the phone, you’re alerting the caller that the number they are dialing is a real phone number, putting you at risk of receiving even more calls in the future. If a robocall slips through, do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes.” If the caller or a recording asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should not engage the caller and hang up immediately. Scammers often use this to identify potential targets.
If you suspect a call you received was fraudulent, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC maintains a robocaller database that is used by phone companies to update their call-blocking lists. Filing a complaint with the FTC it increases the likelihood that repeat offenders will be added to the database. You can file your complaint with the FTC online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.