Have you ever picked up a call with your same area code and telephone prefix, thinking maybe your caller ID was showing you a friendly neighbor or local government agency? Did it actually turn out to be a robocaller who wanted to talk to you about extending your car warranty, a student loan or how you somehow owe money on a bill you were sure you paid?
Well, it turns out you’ve just experienced a number-spoofing call.
The good news? The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a mandate that now requires phone service providers to use the new STIR/SHAKEN caller ID standards to help protect you from these devious robocallers.
What Is STIR/SHAKEN?
No, they aren’t references to James Bond’s martini preferences. They’re actually acronyms. STIR stands for Secure Telephone Identity Revisited and SHAKEN is short for Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs. Basically, it’s the latest effort by regulators and telecom providers in the United States to stop illegal and annoying spoofers from bothering you. It also lets law enforcement better track and shut down gateways used by international robocall scammers.
How Does It Work?
STIR/SHAKEN standards allow phone service providers to improve caller ID information quality, making it easier to route calls from authentic users and block suspicious ones. It does this through a roadmap that moves providers to a common digital language.
It’s a telecom trend a few years in the making. In April 2021, the FCC created the Robocall Mitigation Database. The database is where providers submit details about their implementation of the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication framework. Providers had until June 30, 2021, to register and tell the FCC about their progress on implementing the standards. OnSIP is proud to be among the telecom providers who have implemented the STIR/SHAKEN standards into our calling platforms—we have done so earlier this year.
September 28, 2021, was the deadline for network providers to refuse incoming calls from other providers who didn’t register with the FCC.
The FCC Is Now Ready to Enforce STIR/SHAKEN
In an FCC news release dated October 3, 2022, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel stated, “This is a new era. If a provider doesn’t meet its obligations under the law, it now faces expulsion from America’s phone networks.” The release said the FCC plans to remove seven voice service providers from the database for failing to take key steps, including implementing the STIR/SHAKEN protocol throughout their IP networks, if the providers don’t explain within two weeks why they shouldn’t be cut off.
Are All Robocalls Now Blocked?
No. Unfortunately, these new standards aren’t an impenetrable barrier. However, they are expected to largely reduce the number of pesky robocalls. See, the STIR/SHAKEN protocol is only targeted at removing calls by number-spoofing robocallers who pretend to be someone they aren’t by hijacking a local number.
Plus, a lot of robocalls are still legal. The FCC allows political robocalls from political candidates running for office, charities seeking donations, or companies with your permission to be contacted by robocalls.
How Else Can You Reduce the Number of Unwanted Calls?
Now that you know what is STIR/SHAKEN and how it works, you can check what tools your provider has. With OnSIP, you have access to free call blocking. It automatically declines any incoming calls placed from a specific number. So if a robocall does get through, you can easily add it to your blocked list to make sure it doesn’t come through again.
Setting it up is easy, and you can do it in your Admin Portal. Check out the full instructions in our Knowledgebase article.