Home / Technology / Carriers Detail Why SHAKEN/STIR May Not Be a Silver Bullet in the Fight Against Robocalls

Carriers Detail Why SHAKEN/STIR May Not Be a Silver Bullet in the Fight Against Robocalls

While significant progress has been made by the telephone carriers are adopting a new protocol to help authenticate the caller ID information of someone making an outgoing call, the technology will still not address a fundamental issue relevant to the credit and collection industry: whether the content of that particular call is legitimate or not, representatives from the carriers said yesterday at a robocall summit hosted by the Federal Communications Commission.

Nobody likes receiving those annoying robocalls that come in different languages or telling you there’s a problem with your computer or trying to sell you life insurance. But there are plenty of automated calls that are important — such as those letting you know your kid’s school is closing early or reminding you of an upcoming doctor’s appointment or letting you know that an upcoming payment is due. The content of a message is something that a carrier will never be able to determine, those representatives said.

“You’re not going to be able to determine from SHAKEN/STIR whether the call is illegitimate or legitimate, or what the intent was … or what the content of the call is,” said Chris Wendt, Director of Technical Research and Development for IP Communications at Comcast, according to a published report.

The carriers joined the FCC to discuss the rollout of SHAKEN/STIR, an initiative that seeks to add a checkmark or some other visual notification to an outgoing caller ID to show the recipient of the call that the identity of the entity making the call has been verified. Carriers have been told that they must adopt the SHAKEN/STIR framework by the end of the year.

Most of the carriers are already able to authenticate a calling party when dealing with calls where both the calling party and the called party are on the same network, the representatives said. The remaining work must be done on calls where the parties are not on the same network — such as someone with AT&T calling someone with T-Mobile.

Representatives from the credit and collection industry, the financial services industry, and many other industries have voiced their support for measures that seek to eliminate the calls that nobody ever wants to receive. But those industries also expressed concern that the measures being deployed will also round up legitimate calls that will now never make it through.

At least one participant at the FCC’s summit said that deploying SHAKEN/STIR alone will not be enough to induce individuals to answer the phone, even if the calling party’s phone number has been verified.

According to Lavinia Kennedy, TNS’s representative at the summit, consumers still do not answer the phone if the number is verified because they want more information to determine the intent behind a call. 

“STIR/SHAKEN alone is not going to help the consumer,” said Kennedy. “What helps the consumer is using the analytics on top of it to help the consumer to make a decision on whether they want to answer the call or not.”

One example Kennedy gave was to put the logo of the company calling as a verification symbol so legitimate business calls — like the dentist or the pharmacy — are obvious and the consumer can answer. When TNS tested this, caller pick-up went from 21% to 71%.

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