House committee robocall hearing testimony

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on Legislating to Stop the Onslaught of Annoying Robocalls. Here’s a review of testimony provided by four witnesses.

Dave Summitt, Moffitt Cancer Center

Dave Summitt

The Moffitt Cancer Center, and their patients, have been victims of robocalls in three ways:

  1. Robocalls with spoofed caller ID, pretending to be the Moffitt Cancer Center, are made to staff. The robocaller uses social engineering techniques in attempts to trick staff members into divulging sensitive information.
  2. Spoofed robocalls are made to patients. The caller asks the patient for insurance or payment information to defraud them. As word spreads about these scams, many patients become reluctant to answer legitimate calls from staff.
  3. Robocalls are made to specific targets, a spear phishing tactic, to obtain confidential information.

Mr. Summitt had three requests of the committee:

  1. Require accurate caller identification (STIR/SHAKEN)
  2. Place this requirement upon telecom service providers
  3. Require telecom service providers to work with businesses to investigate and shut down malicious activity.

Margot Freeman Saunders, National Consumer Law Center

Margot Saunders

Ms. Saunders provided several examples of case law to support the claim by the National Consumer Law Center that a large portion of robocalls made in the U.S. are made by well-known, major American corporations that seek to weaken interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Ms. Saunders testified about several facets of the proposed legislation that her organization supports:

  • Definitions of automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS)
  • Ability of consumers to revoke consent
  • Preventing evasive actions to avoid TCPA compliance
  • Restricting the range of TCPA exemptions that can be granted
  • Improved ability to deal with wrong numbers
  • Strengthening legal remedies
  • Improving the reliability of caller ID

Many of these issues involve consumer protection law. However, the last item, strengthening caller ID, involves deployment of STIR/SHAKEN technology to authenticate and verify caller ID. Ms. Saunders requested three actions on this front:

  1. Clarify the legislation to require implementation of technology so that robocallers are clearly identifiable and traceable
  2. Amend the TCPA to specifically prohibit caller ID spoofing except in cases allowed for law enforcement or the protection of the caller
  3. Telephone service providers should be required to prevent the connection of calls (or texts) for which accurate Caller ID information is not attached to a known customer whose name and address matches the originating call provider’s information for that number.

Patrick Halley, USTelecom—The Broadband Association

Patrick Halley

USTelecom is the nation’s trade association representing communications service providers. The association supports efforts to eliminate spam robocalls because:

  1. Their customers demand it
  2. It prevents fraud
  3. It increases the confidence of consumers and businesses that rely on telecom networks.

To reduce spam robocalls, the agency is supporting three initiatives:

  1. Implementation of STIR/SHAKEN to authenticate and verify caller ID and provide call traceback capability
  2. Offer robocall mitigation tools to consumers, such as crowd-sourced phone number reputation lookup
  3. Improve industry traceback efforts to cooperate in identifying the source of spam robocalls and working with law enforcement to bring perpetrators to justice.

Aaron Foss, Nomorobo

Aaron Foss

Nomorobo is a crowd-sourced telephone number reputation system that warns users when an incoming call is using a caller ID with a poor reputation.

Mr. Foss proposed that the laws be changed so that people no longer have to opt out of robocalls. Instead, they should have to take action to opt in. Robocall dialers would have to have express written permission from subscribers before calling them.

TransNexus solutions

We offer comprehensive STIR/SHAKEN functionality in our ClearIP and NexOSS software products. In addition, these products offer phone number reputation lookup to check the reputation of the calling number. With these capabilities, telecom service providers can give subscribers the robocall relief they want.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you implement STIR/SHAKEN and phone number reputation lookup in your network.

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Robcall hearing witnesses

Robocall hearing witnesses