This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Eli Katz, CEO at XConnect
International robocalling impacts the entire telecoms value chain from carriers to consumers. To help prevent robocalls that are initiated from outside the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently expanded on the existing domestic stir shaken solutions to now include internationally originated calls terminating into the US and US gateway providers must now take additional steps to verify the identity of calls that they route.
The new FCC rules require US gateway providers to comply with caller ID authentication protocols for all international originating calls with +1 calling line identifications (CLIs). They now must work to block illegal robocalls, ensure that the automatic number identifications (ANIs)/CLIs are valid numbers, take responsibility for illegal robocalls that get through their networks, and support the FCC in tracing and identifying illegal robocallers. US gateways are the first USA based call switching platform for international calls. A key aspect of the new CLI validation obligations is for gateways to not only check that the CLI / A-Number is from an allocated range/sub range, but in addition that the CLI is not registered on a reasonable Do-Not-Originate (DNO) list.
For US gateway providers, this requires an urgent response. Those who are not in compliance with the new rules and fail to screen transferred calls sufficiently are at risk of not being able to deliver legitimate international voice traffic to US fixed and mobile subscribers. To remove the threat to their business continuity and comply with these new rules, they need to proactively address how they are validating the calls going through their networks whilst blocking any fraudulent traffic.
The Validation Challenge
Robocallers use a variety of deceptive techniques to get recipients to answer, including spoofing, which manipulates the caller ID by displaying fake phone numbers. Sometimes these numbers use a fake three-digit area code, making the call look like it’s coming from a local number. There are other types of fraudulent calls, e.g., vishing, where a CLI/ANI is “spoofed” to make it look as if the call is originating from a credible institution – e.g., your bank. This aspect was the trigger for a DNO list.
According to the FCC, 65% of the voice service providers deemed transmitting spam calls were foreign-based or gateway providers. Gateway providers play a role in transporting foreign-originated calls to recipients in the US. Due to this, they often lack the necessary insights to mitigate robocalling. Non-compliance with the new FCC regulations may result in removal from the Robocall Mitigation Database and mandatory blocking by other network participants, which will massively impact their ability to operate and secure predictable margins.
The challenge is to effectively identify spoofed or scam calls and block them across networks. Gateway providers must ensure that they aren’t blocking real calls while demonstrating value in the accuracy of their operations. The most efficient way to verify if a call is coming from a legitimate number is to have a database of global numbers to verify if they are genuine callers in near real-time.
A number of years ago, efforts were encouraged to create a USA DNO List, which includes numbers specifically used by banks, govt depts etc. which they have requested to be marked as DNO. This was to help reduce the impersonation of key financial or government organisations – a hot place for fraud. A number of countries now run DNO lists, including the USA and the UK.
Protecting International Voice Traffic
As robocalls continue to impact an increasing number of consumers and businesses, more and more countries are looking into putting necessary protocols in place to mitigate this problem. The goal of this is to combat robocalling by differentiating between legitimate and illegal traffic using number validation technologies.
The new protective measures adopted by the FCC will ensure that US citizens are no longer being harassed and scammed by fraudsters, whether these fraudulent calls are originating within the USA or coming in from abroad (with a +1 CLI). The regulations require gateway providers to participate in robocall mitigation, including blocking efforts. Under the new rules, they are required to implement caller ID validation and checking against DNO lists to help reduce illegal spoofing.
To ensure that they are able to effectively mitigate robocalls, they need to deploy simple and efficient methods to validate CLI and accurately block invalid traffic. If gateway providers do nothing, they risk the continuity to their business, yet if they block high risk voice traffic they risk losing out on their share of the market.
As part of the new requirements, the FCC has ordered that gateway providers reference a “reasonable” DNO list when routing calls. A trusted data intelligence provider can enable gateway providers can gain access to an accurate and up to date DNO lists to allow them to identify calls that originate from invalid, unallocated and/or unused numbers. Deploying reliable number data enables gateway providers to capture higher margins, create new business and route traffic with confidence.
To protect business operations, gateway providers need the ability to rapidly identify invalid numbers on both fixed and mobile voice traffic. This requires an easy to access solution to protect their margins by giving them a way to focus their efforts on delivering valid voice traffic.
Validating numbers enables service providers to gain control over their call operations by allowing them to identify invalid A-numbers. By deploying validation capabilities, gateway providers benefit from visibility into the validity of numbers to ensure that their traffic is legitimate and has the potential to reach its intended recipient without being blocked. With the insights from a trusted number intelligence provider, gateway providers can increase precision, performance and trust in their voice traffic with greater visibility and control.
Preventing robocall fraud is a responsibility that the telecoms industry needs to continuously act on. With the right data sets in place, gateway providers can expand their ability to detect inaccurate and invalid CLIs with new global number intelligence.
Fighting Future Voice Fraud
This activity is the first step in worldwide efforts by regulators and the industry to reduce call fraud. The implementation of the new FCC regulations is a major development in addressing, for the first time, international originated calls, not just domestic USA calls. This is a crucial step for tackling the number of robocalls that consumers receive in the US market. Gateway providers have a duty to take the precautions set out for them by the FCC and protect consumers and businesses alike from threats in the international voice market.
Many other countries are now exploring call authentication solutions on a national basis and for international inbound gateways. In addition, as a first step in restoring trust in caller ID, regulators are demanding that CLIs/ANIs are validated against detailed number allocation information and, where applicable, country based DNO information.
The ability to identify invalid numbers is a necessity to gain the edge against industry competitors. As an increasing number of regulatory authorities across the world are looking for ways to combat robocalls, gateway providers need to be alert and stay on top of changing requirements to ensure they can keep doing business seamlessly. With the help of intelligent data insights, they can effectively mitigate and protect consumers against robocalls.
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