FCC comes up with plan to minimize annoying robocalls

Courtesy Sinclair Broadcast Group

Robocalls. We all get them. The question is how do we stop getting them? The FCC is pushing phone companies to step up their attacks on robocallers which could help consumers out a little.

The FCC says around 60% of all of the complaints they receive are about unwanted calls, so they're trying to step in and take action with an initiative called SHAKEN/STIR (Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information using ToKENS and Secure Telephone Identity Revisited)

"Your account has been suspended for verification," is the start of a robocall you may have received before.

"Credit card information or insurance or something about banking," are what most of the calls Lydia Walker, a Birmingham resident, says she receives all too often.

If not that one, surely you've gotten at least one robocall.

"My phone's on do not disturb most days anyways, but I'll go back and look through my calls and it'll be all numbers that I don't have. I'm like I wonder if it's someone who cares... Nope just robocalls it's fine. 1-800 who are you," says Caroline Crawford, also annoyed by robocalls.

Apps like "You Mail" take over your phone's voicemail to identify and stop many spam calls. Their data shows in March 2019 there were 45.1 million spam calls placed to people with the 205 area code.

The apps don't catch every spam call though, which is why the FCC is stepping in. Stephen Upton, COO of Tailwind Technologies cyber security company has heard about their efforts.

"It's the way to have caller id authentication," says Upton.

Here's what the FCC is mixing: they want to STIR a call, have it SHAKEN, and hold the robo spoof.

"What that means is let's say for example you have a Verizon cell phone. When you call outbound, Verizon will check to make sure that you are actually the number that you're calling from and it gives a thumbs up, and then as that call bounces to other networks like AT&T and T-Mobile, they also will check that number against the carrier and if it checks out, they'll allow that call to continue," says Upton.

If it doesn't check out, the call gets canceled.

Several phone companies are working toward implementing SHAKEN/STIR. The authentication would also help police better identify the source of a robocall.

At&t and Comcast are two companies who say they should be able to authenticate calls later this year. Sprint offers the feature through their Premium Caller ID app.

To find out if your provider has it yet, click here.