What the 2021 STIR/SHAKEN Deadline Means for Call Fraud Prevention

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What the 2021 STIR/SHAKEN Deadline Means for Call Fraud Prevention

Much like everything else, call fraudsters took a hit during the pandemic as robocalls slowed down by about 20% in 2020. Unfortunately, spammers are also making a big recovery in 2021 as robocall volume continues to increase every month. There may be relief in sight for all of us who have stopped answering our phones to avoid hearing yet another “offer” to extend our car warranty and businesses getting slammed with increasing toll-free charges from spam calls. On June 30, 2021, the FCC will require wireless carriers and other voice providers to implement the long-awaited STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication technology.    


STIR/SHAKEN, short for Secure Telephony Identity Revisited and Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs are protocols that help digitally authenticate phone numbers to verify that a call is indeed coming from the number shown on a caller ID. It’s also a crafty reference to James Bond’s preferred martini preparation method.

On June 30, 2021, most call carriers will officially be required by the FCC to attest to and sign for the validity of the call ID for each call they put onto the network, and also carry that signature on as it traverses other carriers networks on its way to the final destination point. Now, several mobile carriers have already started doing this for either all or a portion of their traffic, so for some, it won’t be a milestone day as this has been implemented on their network for some time. But for others, and the industry as a whole, it will be a sizable accomplishment. 

STIR/SHAKEN Won’t Immediately Stop Robocalls

With that being said, don’t expect the spam calls to go quiet on July 1. The true design of STIR/SHAKEN is to build a history of each number and over time, give carriers and others insights on numbers to more accurately attest to callers, trust other networks, and build a stronger and trustworthy telephony network. In the end, it should significantly reduce the number of spam and scam calls that reach businesses and consumers.

Invoca’s Continuing Effort to Stop Spam Calls and Toll-Free Traffic Pumping

Invoca is in an even better position to block toll-free traffic pumping (TFTP) and other call scams that impact businesses. Beginning today, our top-tier telecom providers will sign all of our calls for us (outbound/B Leg to our customers' destination lines, call centers, stores, etc.) Since Invoca has been working closely with carriers and playing a large role in tackling TFTP, we have been granted higher levels of attestation, which ensures we will continue to deliver our customers’ calls to their requested term lines. 

But this is just the start for Invoca. Later into the year we will begin ingesting the attestation level data on the inbound calls (A leg/calls to Invoca promo numbers), enabling Invoca customers to choose what actions to take on calls—such as blocking or accepting them—depending on the attestation level.

We continue to see historically low levels of toll-free traffic pumping calls, averaging 3% of all toll- free traffic. The industry was averaging ~10% in 2019 and ~9% in 2020. And with STIR/SHAKEN implementation and the first industry cut in 8YY compensation (how toll- free traffic pumpers make their money) due to the 8YY Access Charge Reform, it looks promising that TFTP will continue to decrease. But it’s important to continue to monitor for TFTP traffic and let your providers know when you see suspicious traffic hitting your toll- free numbers. Invoca will continue to be a leader and contributor in the toll- free traffic pumping task force and work to identify and stop any new TFTP campaigns that arise. 

Changes That Can Impact Business SMS and MMS

While Invoca doesn’t offer SMS analytics today, I think this is an item you probably care about if you read this far! A2P 10DLC. No, it’s not the name of Elon Musk’s next kid, A2P 10DLC refers to a system in the United States that allows businesses to send Application-to-Person (A2P) type messaging via standard 10-digit long code (10DLC) phone numbers. 

To make this simple, if you're sending personal messages from your mobile device, you’re in the clear and life as you know it will stay the same. But if you’re a business sending text messages from a local non-mobile number, whether it’s SMS or MMS, you will likely see an increase in messaging rates, along with some registration fees to make your numbers “compliant” and approved. 

Also, if any of your messages are at risk or not registered to a campaign and gone through proper steps, there is a good chance your messages will have high surcharges applied by the mobile providers and possibly be blocked. So if you have messaging features, we recommend you reach out to your provider asap and get it squared away as the mobile providers are already starting to enforce the surcharges and are very close to implementing the next phase which is blocking and fining for messages deemed illegal/out of compliance. 

STIR/SHAKEN implementation is a big step in the right direction for telecom providers to stop fraudulent calls from reaching consumers. As always, we are committed to getting a step ahead of telecom scammers to save our customers time, money, and enable them to focus on better serving their customers.

Check out this blog post to learn more about Invoca's call fraud fighting efforts.

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