The Federal Communications Commission has announced it’s approved new rules that will require carriers by June of next year to implement protocols to protect consumers against scammers and spoof callers attempting to mask their unfamiliar numbers.
The agency said Tuesday that the STIR/SHAKEN protocols for protecting consumers against robocalls and other fraudulent callers will help curb the problem and will make it easier for authorities to track down parties behind the schemes. According to the FCC, the cost to U.S. consumers from fraudulent callers amounts to roughly $US10 ($16) billion annually. Put another way, the agency estimates that the wasted time we spend answering or dodging our robocall hell will amount to more than $US3 ($5) billion per year in savings.
The move follows the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act that was signed into law in December and required the FCC to actually do something about the scourge of robocalls and spoofers.
As FCC Chairman Ajit Pai noted this week, simply asking carriers politely to implement the technical standards themselves wasn’t really an effective means to curbing the abuse. This week’s vote puts in place a hard deadline for major carriers to implement the protocols and better protect callers against scams, though smaller providers may still receive a one-year extension.
“Widespread implementation of STIR/SHAKEN will reduce the effectiveness of illegal spoofing, allow law enforcement to identify bad actors more easily, and help phone companies identify”and even block”calls with illegal spoofed caller ID information before those calls reach their subscribers,” Pai said in a statement. “Most importantly, it will give consumers more peace of mind when they answer the phone.”
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, meanwhile, pointed to an onslaught of coronavirus-related scams peddling fake cures and other scams amid a global health crisis as a good reason why the protocols should have been enforced sooner.
“The coronavirus pandemic already has robbed too many of us of our health while the rest of us are confined to our homes to do our part to prevent the further spread of this virus,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “So it is good news that today the Federal Communications Commission adopts rules to reduce robocalls through call authentication. I only wish we had done so sooner, like three years ago when the FCC first proposed the use of STIR/SHAKEN technology.”