Doing away with spoofing is “top consumer priority” for FCC

After receiving an earful from the attorneys general of 35 states last month, U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, in a letter to 13 carriers, asking for an update on efforts to stop call spoofing and demanding an action plan be implemented no later than 2019.

Pai got in touch with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile US, Alphabet, Comcast, Cox, Sprint, CenturyLink, Charter, Bandwidth, Vonage, U.S. Cellular and Frontier, according to Reuters.

The FCC chairman wants carriers to use the Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) and Secure Telephone Identify Revisited (STIR) standards to prevent bad actors from tricking people into answering calls from seemingly local numbers. SHAKEN/STIR essentially validates calls between carrier networks.

“Combatting illegal robocalls is our top consumer priority at the FCC,” Pais said in a statement. “That’s why we need call authentication to become a reality—it’s the best way to ensure that consumers can answer their phones with confidence. By this time next year, I expect that consumers will begin to see this on their phones.”

He continued: “Carriers need to continue working together to make this happen and I am calling on those falling behind to catch up. I also thank the many providers that are well on their way toward implementation. Greater participation will ensure the system works for consumers, who expect real progress in combatting malicious spoofing and scam robocalls. If it does not appear that this system is on track to get up and running next year, then we will take action to make sure that it does.”

Earlier this year the FCC fined a telemarketer more than $82 million, one of it’s largest-ever fines, for call spoofing. Philip Roesel and his companies were fined more than $82 million for making more than 21 million robocalls selling health insurance from spoofed numbers.  The FCC had first proposed the fine to Roesel and his companies, including Wilmington Insurance Quotes and Best Insurance Contracts, last summer under the Truth in Caller ID Act. According to the FCC, Roesel and his companies made more than 21.5 million calls during the time period of the complaint, averaging more than 200,000 calls per day — and the vast majority, nearly 17.5 million, were calls placed to mobile devices, including disruption of medical paging service provider Spōk’s service.



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