During its open meeting last month, the FCC proposed rules to end the problems of illegal robocalls and spoofing. When telephone numbers are autodialed and the called party hears a recorded message instead of a live person, that is a robocall.

The Commission estimates that consumers received approximately 2.4 billion robocalls per month in 2016. The FCC itself receives about 200,000 consumer complaints each year about unwanted robocalls. In many illegal robocall cases, the telephone numbers shown on the consumer’s caller ID have been “spoofed,” or intentionally faked, with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain information of value.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) would put into place rules allowing service providers to block calls that meet the following criteria:

  1. Telephone numbers of subscribers who have requested they be blocked in order to prevent those numbers from being used to spoof. Calls would be blocked based on the originating number shown in the Caller ID. This practice is referred to as “Do-Not-Originate.” It was successfully trialed in the industry to help alleviate the abundance of IRS spoofing scams.
  2. Any number that is not a valid North American Numbering Plan (NANP) number.
  3. Any valid NANP number that is not allocated to a provider by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) or the Pooling Administrator (PA).
  4. Any valid NANP number that is allocated to a provider by the NANPA or PA, but is not assigned to a subscriber.

The three blocking allowances involving invalid, unassigned NANP numbers could be effective but only with full industry cooperation. For success, the industry would need to:

  1. Overcome difficulties with sharing data between service providers due to competition and privacy concerns;
  2. Require service providers to keep track of their unassigned/inactive numbers;
  3. Agree upon a centralized database to identify and share the unassigned and invalid numbers;
  4. Determine if switching systems have the capability to “mass block” unassigned/inactive numbers;
  5. Ensure that each carrier is able to identify and unblock numbers in real-time once they are assigned to customers; and
  6. Guarantee that ALL carriers participate.

JSI will be watching the progress of these proposed rules closely and will update clients who attend an upcoming LNP webinar or who subscribe to The LNP Standard newsletter. We encourage clients to be proactive in educating their consumers in regards to these types of robocall/spoofing scams, the new blocking allowances (once mandated), how to report robocalls and spoofing to carriers, rules for legitimate robocalls, and preventive measures. If you’d like assistance educating your customers or staff or if you have questions regarding the NPRM or robocalls and spoofing in general, please contact Bridget Alexander in our MD office at 301-459-7590.

Source: JSI e-Lert