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Smartphones & gadgets

Robocalls could finally end – If you have one of these wireless providers

We have all answered a call from an unknown number, only to be greeted with a robotic voice or a pre-recorded message. Dreaded robocalls are extremely annoying. Not only is it wasting your time, but it also means that you are on a list.

And you are by no means the only one. It has been estimated that 22 billion robocalls were logged in the first five months of this year alone. That is a lot of time and resources that go into something so intrusive.

It’s estimated that 52 billion robocalls will have been made in the U.S. before the year is over. But if you are tired of the constant badgering, there is some good news on the horizon.

Here’s the backstory

You might see a dramatic reduction in the number of robocalls starting this week. All major U.S. mobile providers have until June 30 to implement STIR/SHAKEN technology. The FCC is taking a hard stance in eliminating robocalls, and STIR/SHAKEN is the key.

“We’re not going to stop until we get robocallers, spoofers, and scammers off the line,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. Several approaches are being taken against unwanted communications, but the newly implemented technology is on the front line.

What does this mean for robocalls?

STIR is an acronym for “Secure Telephone Identity Revisited.” SHAKEN is an acronym for “Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs.” It’s a bit of a mouthful, but both will protect you against robocalls.

The STIR part of the technology is essentially a digital certificate to verify that the caller is who they claim to be. When a VOIP call is made, the technology adds a digital certificate to the calling session to be identified when it’s routed through systems. When the call gets to the recipient through the VOIP provider, the caller ID is examined against the certificate and a list of known IDs.

If a discrepancy in the certificate is found or the caller ID can’t be verified, the call will be terminated. The intended recipient will never know that a robocall was attempted to their number.

Where STIR deals with online calls like VOIP systems, the SHAKEN technology takes care of public telephone networks. These are on national, regional and local provider grids and include telephone lines, fiber cables, mobile networks and communication satellites.

A digital certificate can’t be generated for non-VOIP calls, so a different approach needs to be taken. Major mobile networks in the U.S. must then check additional information in the caller ID to determine if the number has been spoofed.

STIR/SHAKEN technology was grouped into the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (Traced) Act in 2019, making it mandatory for all voice service providers.

How does this affect you?

With the technology’s implementation, you should receive fewer robocalls beginning July 1. All calls that target consumers and customers must go through these systems. It won’t eliminate robocalls completely but will reduce the amount of fake or bogus calls.

There are still several things that you can do to stop annoying calls:

  • Avoid unknown numbers – Don’t answer calls from numbers that you don’t recognize.
  • Contact companies directly with official numbers – If the caller claims to be from a certain company, but you are skeptical, hang up and call the company directly to verify.
  • Never press buttons during robocalls – Don’t opt-out of receiving robocalls by pressing a button during a call. This often leads to more spam calls.
  • Don’t blindly trust the caller ID – Scammers can spoof caller ID to seem like a local company or a trusted source.

Keep reading

Clever way to stop those annoying robocalls

T-Mobile’s new ‘Scam Shield’ helps you fight annoying robocalls

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