What can we do about robocalls?

The Washington Post (WP) recently reported some startling facts about robocalling:

  • There are 230 million phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.
  • According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), violators can be fined up to $40,654 per call, and since 2009, the FTC has sued and obtained over a billion dollars in judgments against violators.
  • Still, the FTC receives 19,000 complaints per day about robocalls in violation of the Do Not Call Registry.
  • There are about 2.5 billion robocalls being placed every month.

Why isn’t the Do Not Call Registry working?

  1. Robocallers use computers, internet connections, software and equipment to dial numbers and spoof caller ID. This action makes the perpetrators very difficult to catch.
  2. Robocalling equipment, software and techniques can generate millions of calls at very low cost. Even with a very small response rate, there’s lots of money to be made—FTC penalties are trivial in comparison.

What is this doing to the telephone industry?

According to the WP: “At a hearing on robocalls in October [2017], Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she was getting so many of them, she’d disconnected her home phone. ‘The list,’ she said, ‘doesn’t work.’”

And she isn’t the only one. Robocalling is a threat to the usefulness of the telephone system for customers and the business prospects for companies that provide telephone services.

How can this problem be solved?

  1. Telephone service providers and enterprises should implement fraud detection applications to identify robocalls and either block them or divert them to software applications that require human interaction (like Captcha, for example).
  2. The FTC should require the use of methods to authenticate caller ID that cannot be spoofed. This approach, called STIR (Secure Telephone Identity Revisited), exists and is under consideration by the FTC. They should move forward with this initiative.

TransNexus engineers are experts on fraud detection and STIR. We have software available today that can detect suspicious calls and either block or divert them for special handling by systems like Captcha. And when the FTC gives the green light on STIR, we’ll be ready.