For years U.S. telephone carriers have said that they can’t stop spam callers. Truth is that they make a lot of money from either sending or receiving these calls, so they had zero incentive to figure out a way to stop it.
The problem would decrease a lot if you could believe the information that caller ID was providing you because you could (a) tell if you knew the person who was calling you and (b) you could not answer calls if you didn’t recognize the number.
How many times have you received a call that shows with the area code and exchange (the first 6 digits of a phone number) that looks like it came from your neighborhood.
Caller ID was created decades ago and has zero security in it. Add to that the fact that adding security costs money to the carriers with no added revenue and you can see why they haven’t done anything about it.
But Congress passed the TRACED Act late last year and this gives the FCC more power to go after phone spammers, it extends the statute of limitations for DoJ to go after spammers and it requires carriers to add security to Caller ID at no cost to subscribers. It also allows the FCC to fine carriers for first offenses, something the FCC cannot do in most cases.
Magically, when the carriers figured out that they might get fined or even prosecuted, it only took them a couple of months to design at least a partial solution. This is one of those cases where we don’t want perfect to get in the way of good.
Since most calls are now digital, the current plan, called SHAKEN/STIR, requires Caller ID info to be digitally signed at the source and digitally checked at the destination.
I noticed a couple of months ago that Verizon is now flagging calls as potential spam and is giving me the option to mark any call that I receive as potential spam. Interesting what happens when the money equation changes.
The FCC *JUST* released rules that require carriers to implement SHAKEN/STIR on the digital portion of their network (such as cell phones) by June 30th of next year. There is a one year delay for small carriers that may not be able to financially get it done by that date.
Then carriers have to deal with the old analog phone calls.
So while this is far from perfect, the big spammers are all digital because they need to make thousands of calls a hour in order to be profitable crooks. This new regulation should significantly help this problem.
As long as the FCC keeps the pressure up on the carriers, things should improve over the next couple of years.